Public to have its say on which Wigan primary school to shut

Two primary schools in Wigan are being considered for closure as the birth rate in the area continues to fall and the number of pupils is projected to drop.

Friday, 12th November 2021, 5:32 pm
Abram Bryn Gates Primary School

Either Abram Bryn Gates Primary School in Bamfurlong or Holy Family Catholic Primary School in Platt Bridge could shut in a couple of years.

Wigan Council has launched a consultation asking residents in Abram for their views on how to cut the number of local primary schools from four to three.

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Holy Family RC Primary School, Platt Bridge

Schools in the area are projected to have a surplus of up to 49 places by 2023.

It comes as the birth rate across Wigan has been falling over recent years.

The population in the Abram area is projected to fall further – and even when new housing developments are taken into account, pupil numbers are expected to remain low for the foreseeable future, according to the council.

A spokesperson said: “All local authorities have a statutory duty to ensure sufficiency of school places for all residents and this involves balancing supply and demand and ensuring we have enough school places where we need them or reducing places where there are too many, that it has a negative impact.

“As part of our duty, we monitor the birth rates across the borough regularly to project the number of primary school places that we will need.

“The birth rate in Wigan has been mostly falling for a number of years. This is more prominent in certain areas within the borough but is specifically an issue in the Abram area.

“A school’s budget is primarily based on the number of pupils on roll. If pupil numbers continue to fall over a sustained period of time, this would have a significant, negative, impact on school budgets and can have a detrimental impact on the educational offer.

“We want to ensure that all children in the borough have access to the best education.”

There are three options being considered with the aim of cutting primary school places by September 2023 – but each involves closing one school.

The pupils at the school which closes would either all join the one that remains open or be dispersed between the other schools which are in the Abram area.

The council spokesperson added: “We know that our schools often form a big part in the heart of a community and that any decision to reduce numbers of places or to consider a closure is an incredibly emotive and upsetting issue.

“We do not consider these options lightly and have been monitoring the situation for a number of years.

“The public consultation on school places in the Abram area is now live and we are committed to listening to people’s views.

“I would encourage anyone who may be affected by future decisions about school places in this area, to access the consultation and make sure you have your say.”

The consultation closes on December 13 with a decision due by April 2022.

Several face-to-face and virtual meetings for staff, governors, parents and pupils to discuss the matter have been scheduled at both schools this month.

More information is available online at www.wigan.gov.uk/consultations.

Bryn Gates executive headteacher Gillian Talbot and chair of governors Joanne Buckler, said: "All involved with Abram Bryn Gates Community Primary School also intend to make an extremely strong case to remain open, and we will do our utmost to keep one of the few non-faith affiliated schools, in the Wigan borough, as an option for the local and surrounding community.

We too have a loyal and dedicated staff team, governing body, parent group, community and most importantly of all a fantastic and special cohort of children, who benefit from our small school, big heart environment.

We will support all our concerned parties to have their views and concerns heard, as part of this consultation process, and ensure that all views are captured and considered by the local authority."

In a joint statement Mike Dawber, chair of Holy Famly School's governors, and the school's head Janice Taberner, said: "We intend to make a strong case for remaining open and would ask that responses provide a rational argument opposing closure.

"The consultation is in its early stages and we obviously intend to do our upmost to guarantee that our school continues to provide a Catholic education to the local community.

"We would like to reassure everyone that the staff and governing body of Holy Family are entirely devoted to the school.

"We have an outstanding group of dedicated staff and teachers who run the school at an operational level on a day-to-day basis, and a formidable governing body that provide a strategic overview.

"Please rest assured that over the next few weeks we will do everything possible to ensure that our views and the views of the parents and children of Holy Family are heard and considered."

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