[Report of the Director of Children's Services. To be introduced by the Cabinet Member for Children and Families.]
This report details the outcome of a six-week formal consultation on the proposal to amalgamate Stamford Hill Primary School with Tiverton Primary School.
The Cabinet Member introduced the report which updated the Cabinet on the statutory process for the amalgamation of Stamford Hill Primary School with Tiverton Primary School. This was a significant school issue and the Council had to follow a statutory process and this report was another milestone in the process. The Council had completed a further statutory 6 week consultation and came to a view that amalgamation was still the preferred course of action.
Cabinet were asked to note the responses to the consultation contained at appendix 1 and to agree that the Council publish the statutory notices, on the proposal to amalgamate Stamford Hill Primary School with Tiverton Primary School. This included a four-week representation period of statutory consultation which is published, and which is the final opportunity for people and organisations to express their views about the proposal.
The Cabinet Member emphasised the reasons for pursuing the course of amalgamation, including a drop in the numbers of pupils attending the school and flattening birth rates.
Reasons for decision
There is significant concern over the long-term sustainability of Stamford Hill Primary School and, to a lesser extent, Tiverton Primary School, in terms of their falling rolls and the resultant risk to their financial stability. The former is a result of a flattening birth rate which means that local demand for school places has fallen and is projected to remain broadly static until 2026/27 and possibly beyond.
The Council has a duty of care to ensure children in its schools are able to receive a good education and to access the full curriculum. A school with a declining roll will be challenged to do this effectively because of inevitable financial pressures from reduced funding.
This report provides a summary of the representations received from the recent consultation at Appendix 1 together with representation from the informal consultation at Appendix 2.Cabinet are asked to review the summary of representations and make an informed decision on the next steps based on all material considerations.
Alternative options considered
A number of options on the future of Stamford Hill Primary School were presented to local stakeholders as part of the informal consultation that initially took place between the 27 March and 8 May 2019. Stakeholders were informed of the reasons why these options were less desirable than the Council’s preferred option of amalgamation.
a) Keeping Stamford Hill open: This option does not provide a long-term sustainable solution to falling local demand and leaves other local schools vulnerable because demand for school places are falling more widely in the locality.
b) Federation: Federation is an option that focuses on improving educational delivery by allowing the governing body to use budget, resources and staff across a federation to improve the educational outcomes for all pupils. This option would need another school to federate with Stamford Hill Primary. Also, under a federation, schools would remain as separate organisations and this would not address the decline in numbers on roll at Stamford Hill (and other local schools) or the financial challenges that other schools are facing. This option is therefore less desirable than amalgamation.
c) Amalgamation with split site: This would involve Tiverton Primary School having two permanent sites and would not be desirable because it would involve the overheads of permanently running two sites in a context of falling demand for school places.
d) Closure of Stamford Hill Primary with pupils moving to other local schools (including Tiverton Primary): This would involve closing Stamford Hill Primary School and giving parent/carers the opportunity to apply for a school place at any other Haringey primary school (including Tiverton) and in other local authorities. This option provides a less outcome focused solution to those parents with children currently at Stamford Hill Primary and doesn’t provide a mechanism for ensuring cohorts of children are, as far as reasonably possible, kept together, which is an outcome some parents expressed as part of the informal consultation.