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School shake-up in Poole to affect 3,400 pupils
SCHOOLS in Poole face their biggest transformation yet at the start of the new year in September.
Borough of Poole’s massive change in the age of transfer has been nine years in the making, cost £37.9million and will affect around 3,400 pupils.
When youngsters return to or start school in Poole on September 4, they will go to an infant school from reception to Year 2, attend a junior school from Years 3 to 6 and a secondary from Year 7 to 11. Combined schools will become primary schools.
Crucially this means Key Stage 1 will be completed at infants school and Key Stage 2 at junior school, instead of splitting them between schools.
This change – which does not affect the Broadstone pyramid – will put the borough in tune with most of the rest of the country.
“It was originally approved in 2007 but we have been working on it since 2004,” said John Nash, former education director who has returned to the borough after leading Dorset’s education service, to see the project he began through to implementation.
“It’s such a big thing. It’s a long-term strategic plan that’s coming to fruition,” he said.
With the aim of raising standards the move will sweep away a confusing system which saw youngsters moving on to secondary school at the age of 11 or 12 or 13.
The scheme was delayed while government grants were sought to enable schools to build accommodation to take another year group.
Parkstone Grammar, Poole Grammar and Poole High had £15m spent on them, Ashdown £15m and St Edward’s £6m while the £11m spent at St Aldhelm’s Academy came from the Building Schools for the Future pot.
Borough of Poole has made a contribution of £3.2m in revenue costs towards the massive project.
“This has gone very smoothly, partly because we haven’t closed any schools,” said Mr Nash. “We have given ourselves sufficient time to raise the money and do the work and prepare the ground.”
He said parents were in favour of the scheme and teacher redundancies were being kept to a minimum. “We are trying our very best to avoid any compulsories. We are not quite there yet. We are talking single figures.”
The scheme also had the unexpected benefit of providing school places for the baby boom.
“If this investment hadn’t been made we would have been looking for money to increase the number of first schools,” added Mr Nash.
Breakdown of costs
St Edwards: £6.2m
Parkstone Grammar: £6.1m
Poole High: £4.9m
Poole Grammar: £4.4m
Project management: £0.8m