Cabinet agree statutory notice for merger of Carlton and Rhyl primary schools
Camden’s Cabinet have agreed that a statutory notice proposing the merger of Carlton and Rhyl primary schools should be published, amid falling pupil numbers, at a meeting last night (Wednesday, 16 December).
Following acute falls in births in our Borough, surplus places in schools continue to rise and now stand at 16% in our primary schools. This is despite the difficult action that we, and our family of schools, have already taken to reduce provision, including the closure of St Aloysius Catholic Primary School last year.
Following a comprehensive, seven-week public consultation, Camden Council’s Cabinet have agreed to a four week statutory notice period (from 7 January to 4 February 2021) on the proposals to merge Carlton and Rhyl primary schools to respond to this dramatic fall in pupil numbers and ensure a sustainable school system. Following this, a final decision on the proposed merger would be taken by the Cabinet in March 2021.
The proposals mean that Rhyl Primary School would be expanded to include the site of Carlton Primary School as well as reducing entry to the merged school from a total of four classes to two classes (a reduction of 60 places per year) from September 2021.
Technically, this would be achieved by the closure of Carlton Primary School as a legal entity but, in practice, the merger would draw upon the strengths of both schools together.
Carlton’s site and facilities would also remain in use for the school’s local community and for the benefit of children and their families, with the aim to develop innovative new early years, family and community support services on the premises.
Camden Council recognises the importance of Carlton school within the local community and will be asking for their views and to get involved in shaping these future services.
The proposed merger is supported by both schools and in a joint statement the headteachers of Carlton and Rhyl primary schools said:
Rhyl and Carlton have been providing an excellent education as community schools at the heart of the Queen’s Crescent and Gospel Oak areas for generations. Both schools are committed to ensuring this is maintained for the future, but recognise the huge challenge of falling pupil numbers in central London, in particular Camden and at Carlton Primary School, resulting in the proposal to close Carlton Primary School as a legal entity and merge with Rhyl Primary School.
Carlton is highly regarded and valued within the community. The proposed provision of education, as well as early years and community services on this site, would enable the merged school to build on this strength in meeting the needs of local families and children.
Births in our borough have fallen by almost 20% from 2012, which means that some of our schools have high numbers of unfilled places. As schools are funded on a ‘per pupil’ basis, falling school rolls are creating significant funding challenges for individual schools and for schools as a whole.
We recognise the important place Carlton has in the local community. Nobody wants to see Carlton or any school close, but the dramatic fall in numbers means that we have to look at the best way of sustaining primary education in this area and ensuring our family of schools are fit for the future. If we don’t take action, our primary schools would be at huge risk of becoming unviable, leading to unplanned closures or further changes that would mean greater uncertainty for families and poorer outcomes for pupils.
We know in Camden we are strongest when we work together – our schools are facing this challenge collectively, and although these changes will be difficult, this is the right thing to do in order to secure a sustainable future for our schools.
The proposals will now proceed to a statutory notice period, running from 7 January to 4 February 2021, before a final Cabinet decision in March 2021.
During this time, people are welcome to provide feedback and make representations about the proposals that will be included in a final public decision-making report.
Camden Council, Camden Learning, schools and other partners will also be developing a comprehensive education strategy to provide a Camden-wide response to these challenges.
This strategy would set out an education vision reflecting the unique attributes and needs of Camden and demonstrating our efforts to be a family-friendly borough.