Oatlands Junior School - Chris Tulley, Governor and Estelle Weir, Headteacher
Oatlands Junior School - Chris Tulley, Governor and Estelle Weir, Headteacher

Oatlands Junior School continues proposal to expand school

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Oatlands Junior School in Harrogate have recently announced a proposal to expand the school to include infant school provision.

Currently around 95% of the children joining them come from a physically separate school, Oatlands Infant School.

The junior school is part-way through a communication and consultation process, having written to parents, placed information on the school website and hosted an open-door Q&A session attracting over 200 people.

 

Chris Tulley, Chair of Governors at Oatlands Junior School, said:

We are looking at the long-term and what’s best for the community.

There is no doubt that a full primary is better for the children and fits in with the national picture as there are very few separate infant and junior schools.

Another consideration is the expanding population of the town with many new developments likely to happen.

We have been talking to the infant school for a year now and we appreciate that they currently don’t wish to become a primary school.

 

Both schools are Academy schools, with the Junior School being part of Red Kite Learning Trust and the Infant School being part of the Yorkshire Causeway Schools Trust.

 

Chris Tulley said:

The Junior School became an Academy and joined the Trust a number of years ago now and the Infant School became an Academy and joined their Trust around a year later.

Being in  a Trust allows for the schools in the Trust to work as a cluster, with benefits across the schools. It would have allowed for that working together if both schools were part of the same Trust.

Although we acknowledge that this proposal has caused heated debate, we have also received support from many parents. We have tried to be very proactive in responding to email questions by updating the FAQ online to keep them as useful and relevant as possible.

But this, as a consultation, is a way away from being a done-deal.

 

 

If the Junior School expands to become a full primary then it will naturally take children from reception through to leaving to Secondary School.

This is where the issue arises for the infant school as its children will no longer have a natural progression and will have to apply for a place at the Oatlands Junior School or another school within the town.

The Junior School believes that both schools should therefore become separate full primary schools.  The infant school has considered the option, but believes it is not right for them or the community.

Online there has been a well informed and active campaign against the proposals with an online petition and printed flyers being distributed.

 

Rachel Hartley, Chair of Governors at Oatlands Infant School, said:

The Junior School wishes to change its status, and has suggested that the easiest way to proceed is for us to agree to change our status too.

We are always open to change to meet the needs of the community and have no doubt that we could also be an incredible primary school.

However, a change to a full primary school is a major change.

The impact of such a change on pupils, parents and staff is significant, particularly during the transition period, and financially very difficult given the current projections of pupil numbers.

Given that both schools are already very successful, we do not think that the disruption, uncertainty and financial difficulties in an already challenging financial environment which would result for both schools is justified, or that it would be in the best interests of the community as a whole.

We are committed to working with local schools and agree that local schools should work together for the best of the community they serve.

Staff and governors have always tried very hard to work with the Junior School, to ensure the best education for all our children and to make transition as smooth as possible, and this has always worked well. Children at the Junior School make great progress and achieve highly.

The school now needs to put a business case together for the proposal, if it is to go ahead after the consultation process, which includes consultation with the Local Education Authority, with a final decision being by the Regional Schools Commissioner.

 

 

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