Protesting parents call on Solihull council to scrap schools' merger plan - The Solihull Observer
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17th Aug, 2022

Protesting parents call on Solihull council to scrap schools' merger plan

CAMPAIGNING parents are urging the council to scrap plans to merge an infant and junior school in Solihull.

Solihull Metropolitan Borough Council (SMBC) has put forward a proposal to merge Daylesford Infant School and Chapel Fields Junior School into one primary school.

A recent Ofsted report concluding Daylesford required improvement was given as the main reason, as well as meeting the demands of the growing numbers of children attending both schools.

But parents are concerned the merger is simply a response to cost-cutting and does not serve the interests of their children.

It comes as some Solihull primary school teachers gave impassioned and angry addresses to councillors at Tuesday’s council meeting.

They spoke during a debate concerning the ongoing campaign for more funding from government for the borough’s schools.

Dean Lanchester, whose son attends Daylesford, said: “Parents want to know how this will improve our children’s education, and how the education department allowed such a rapid decline in Daylesford and yet did nothing to assist the school other than this merger.

“This is wrong for the area, wrong for the community and worse for all the children.

“This is not, as the council want us to believe, in our children’s interest, but all in its own.”

The council is currently holding a consultation period until November 3 for parents and the community to have its say.

Mr Lanchester previously fronted the campaign against the merging of Solihull schools Hatchbrook Brook – which his daughters attended – and Valley School.

The schools merged to form Valley Primary School in 2014, although it still operates on two different sites.

The council’s proposal for the Daylesford and Chapel Fields merger says feasibility is underway to look at moving the combined school onto one site in the near future, subject to a second consultation process.

Mr Lanchester said if this happened, funding would be reduced since the school would receive financial support for only one school rather than two.

He added: “This is an exercise in saving money for the council, not children’s education. It is the fact the children’s lives are being messed with to save a few pounds which annoys me the most.

“I feel very strongly about education in general and I did not want to have to fight something like this again, but I have to as I feel it’s the right thing to do.”

Other reasons cited by the Conservative-run council include a smoother transition for Daylesford pupils moving up to year three – many who transfer to Chapel

Fields – and a stronger and more extensive governing body.

But Daylesford’s governing body has raised concerns a single, larger body would mean a broader focus – with less on the interests of the children – and cause disruption to their schooling.

It also said managing a split site would be difficult and not result in financial savings.

Visit www.solihull.gov.uk/about-the-council/consultations/currentconsultations to respond to the proposal.

Tuesday’s council meeting debated a Green party motion concerned that a new ‘national funding formula’ for schools from next April will result in further real terms cuts per pupil in the borough.

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