What IS the local primary school problem?
The IW Council are currently consulting on how to reduce the current surplus places in the West Wight. They began this process in March 2019, proposing four options and recommending the closure of All Saints CE Primary School in Freshwater, and expansion of Saint Saviour’s Catholic Primary School in Totland.
Following a six week consultation process a strong lobby from the ‘Freshwater – Save our School’ group has led to the Council changing their plan to close All Saints and move Yarmouth School to the Freshwater site.
Obviously, this “relocation” would actually be closing Yarmouth School in Yarmouth.
The IW Council’s current proposal (we do not want this)
Close All Saints School in Freshwater
Move all pupils from All Saints to Yarmouth School on a temporary basis.
Reconfigure the Freshwater site (building works could take 2 years or more) while all the children are squeezed into the small Yarmouth campus.
Permanently close the Yarmouth site and “move” Yarmouth School to Freshwater
All Saints has consistently been graded “requires improvement” by Ofsted and the Council stated that ‘it has the overall weakest performance of all five Primary Schools in the West Wight’. It currently has 81 out of 210 pupil places (37%) filled – although the latest news is that it is to reduce this by 105 places from 2020, a crucial fact as it means the Yarmouth relocation would not now reduce surplus places and help the Council’s problem.
Yarmouth School was graded “Good” by Ofsted, who particularly praised the School management and Governors. In 2018 it was the highest scoring school on the whole island for pupils achieving a higher standard - nearly triple the national average of 10%.
This success is linked to the school setting. Yarmouth School has extremely close community ties and an outstanding natural environment. The strong community increases the children’s social awareness. The unique location is within walking distance of beaches, woods, the estuary, the harbour. The “relocation” of Yarmouth School would have a disproportionately devastating effect on the town.
By closing Yarmouth School site the Council would disrupt a good school and create practical problems that would damage the education of children – and without reducing the school surplus:
The proposal includes a temporary relocation of all 81 All Saints pupils to Yarmouth during the lengthy redevelopment of the Freshwater site. This is unrealistic and very disruptive.
Yarmouth School has no space to expand or house temporary classrooms, creating a hugely stressful and detrimental learning environment which would negatively impact the children from both schools; All Saints’ children would suffer two upheavals during the process.
The Council have been unable to give a concrete figure for how much money might be available and whether it will pay for a refurbishment or rebuild (very different things) on the All Saints site.
The Council’s original first preferred option of closing All Saints and expanding Saint Saviour’s School is best for the children: It is by far the least disruptive to the pupils of All Saints with only one move. Saint Saviour’s has a substantially larger site than Yarmouth and would only require two additional classrooms without detrimentally impacting the outside space.
From 2020, moving All Saints into Saint Saviour’s would reduce the surplus places by 35, whereas the closure of the Yarmouth site would not result in any reduction of surplus places.