Rushden school merger proposal plan moves one step closer

Tennyson Road Infant School and Alfred Street Junior School will merge

Friday, 1st July 2022, 12:35 pm
Updated Monday, 4th July 2022, 9:40 am

Unitary councillors have agreed to proceed with the amalgamation of Rushden’s Tennyson Road Infant School and Alfred Street Junior School that will result in one of the school sites shutting.

North Northamptonshire Council’s (NNC) Education, Skills and Employment (EAP) committee members voted to recommended to the executive the ‘technical closure’ one of the schools.

This means one of the schools will have its Department for Education number withdrawn, if agreed, on August 25, 2022 – technically closing one school under one identity.

Alfred Street Junior School and Tennyson Road Infant School (inset)

A report produced following a consultation presented to the EAP recommended that Tennyson Road Infant School closes and Alfred Street Junior School expanded.

The NNC report said: “Based on discussions with key stakeholders it is recommended that Tennyson Road Infant School is the school that is closed and the age range of Alfred Street Junior School expanded.

“This does not prejudge the site, name, staffing or any other aspect of the new school, which can be the subject of a further consultation and decision-making processes and is simply a technical decision that will enable the amalgamation to go ahead.”

Yesterday, (Thursday, June 30) councillors heard that the results of a consultation held in February 2022 seeking views from members of the school community and the wider public.

Out of the 190 people who responded to the consultation 69 residents put forward their views as opposed to 49 parents, carers and guardians – 25 members of school staff replied.

The preferred option of merging the two schools on to one site was made by 60 percent with the same number choosing Alfred Street as their preferred site – only 28 per cent chose Tennyson Road.

Several respondents commented on the historical importance of the Alfred Street Site, with references which linked to the theme of the school site being a central part of the ‘town’s heritage’.

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Tennyson Road was considered by some to be the site which would provide the greatest opportunity for most children to walk to school, others were happy that their children would be attending a single site.

The merger consultation for both schools was requested by their governing bodies who have been working with NNC Officers to address the ongoing operational and financial issues.

A joint steering group set up by the schools said: “Having received and considered the outcomes of the consultation process, the steering group recommends that the amalgamation of Alfred Street Junior School and Tennyson Road Infant School is progressed. It is the view of the group that this decision will lead to the development of a stronger, sustainable school that will be best placed to meet the needs of children, parents/carers and the wider community into the future.

“The Group understands that the process of amalgamation may be unsettling for pupils, parents/carers and staff at the school, and so will work with the council to actively support everyone engaged in or impacted by the process.

“Further key decisions will be required prior to the amalgamation about issues such as the site and Governance of the new school.”

Executive members will now be asked to invited to determine whether to continue towards the merger by publishing a statutory notice in accordance with the provisions of section 15 of the Education and Inspections Act 2006.

Committee chairman, Councillor Scott Edwards, the NNC’s executive member for children, families, education and skills, said: “Thank you to everybody who responded to the consultation. It’s really proved that they are putting children’s interests at the heart of their replies.

“The point is that it’s a technical closure, that nothing has been decided – which school will close that will be depending on the outcome of the executive.”