Plan to close Wigan primary school clears latest hurdle

Shevington Community Primary School
Shevington Community Primary School

A proposal to close a Wigan primary school has been recommended for approval by council officers.

The final decision on whether to shut Shevington Community Primary School (CPS) in October will now be made by Wigan Council’s cabinet members at their next meeting.

If a decision is taken by cabinet to close the school we will be working with staff and families at CPS on the next steps and supporting them through the transition

James Winterbottom

A report published ahead of the meeting on January 26 states that there is no feasible alternative to dealing with a surplus of places in the village, which would result in the federation which runs the school facing a yearly deficit of almost £600k from 2019 if no action was taken.

If cabinet approve the plan, the existing 67 pupils at CPS would be moved to Shevington Vale Community Primary, which will be expanded.

The plan has been strongly opposed by members of the community and ward councillors, who raised fears about class sizes and travel if the school closed.

But in the report, the council has said it will set up a transition group of local authority staff, school staff, parents and councillors to ensure the move is as “effective as possible”.

A commitment has also been made to assess travel needs of the affected pupils and whether safety measures such as a new pedestrian crossing will need to be introduced.

But the report also states for the first time that there will be staffing implications if the plan goes ahead “as staff would be placed in a potential redundancy situation”.

The council said it was too soon to say if redundancies would be necessary or how many members of staff might be affected it is.

Two consultations have been held on the plan, with the latest receiving 107 responses, none of which were in favour of the proposal.

James Winterbottom, director for children’s services at Wigan Council, said: “I’d like to thank the many people who have engaged with us so positively and thoughtfully throughout this consultation process.

“All the responses we have received have been considered and made available for decision makers in advance of the cabinet meeting.

“Making a recommendation to close a school is never an easy option but unfortunately, despite the extensive consultation and engagement with the local community, we have been unable to identify any other workable solutions to the significant number of surplus places at CPS and the impact this has on the school being able to run effectively into the future.

“As schools are funded nationally on the number of children on roll this situation, that is forecast to continue, means the federation would be running a financial deficit of almost £600,000 per year by 2019 if we don’t take action to reduce the number of surplus places.”

The school is currently running at less than half its capacity of 210 students.

Mr Winterbottom said: “In all of this our first priority has been ensuring a sustainable education for the children in Shevington and the borough and my recommendation in the report is that a closure of CPS is the best way to achieve this.

“We know CPS is an outstanding school and that outstanding education standard will continue as all schools in the Shevington Schools Federation share the same leadership team.

“If a decision is taken by cabinet to close the school we will be working with staff and families at CPS on the next steps and supporting them through the transition.

“These transition arrangements will ensure the move of schools is as easy as possible for pupils, in particular those starting reception and year six and children with special educational needs and disabilities.

“For all children and families affected we will ensure a transition plan is in place and in particular we will focus on travel to school to ensure we make arrangements available for those that need support – this is in direct response to issues raised in the consultation.”