Next steps for proposals on the future of Carlton and Rhyl primary schools

Camden’s Cabinet are being asked to agree the next steps in the Council’s proposal to merge Carlton and Rhyl primary schools at a meeting on Wednesday, 16 December.

In common with the rest of central London, Camden is facing a dramatic fall in birth rates, which means that there are fewer children requiring school places in the borough. As schools are funded on a ‘per pupil’ basis, surplus school places would result in significant funding challenges for schools, leading to school closures or unplanned changes.

To respond to this issue, Camden Council has developed a set of proposals to ensure a sustainable school system, which includes the merger of Carlton and Rhyl primary schools.

The Council has been working with all primary schools across the Borough - and particularly with those with a high number of surplus places, including Carlton and Rhyl schools.

If the proposals are agreed, Rhyl Primary School would expand to include the site of Carlton Primary School and reduce 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 will draw upon the strengths of both schools together.

Cllr Angela Mason, Cabinet Member for Best Start for Children and Families
Births in our borough have fallen by almost 20% from 2012, which means that some of our schools have high numbers of unfilled places, creating significant funding challenges for individual schools and for schools as a whole. This has become a consistent trend, and without taking action, our primary schools would be at 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 we are proposing changes that, whilst difficult, secure a sustainable future for our schools.

I’d like to thank all those who participated in the consultation. All responses and feedback will help inform how proposals for new and innovative services provided by a newly merged school would take shape, should the Cabinet agree for this to progress further.
Cllr Angela Mason, Cabinet Member for Best Start for Children and Families

If approved by Cabinet, the proposals would proceed to a statutory notice period, running from 7 January to 4 February 2021, before a final Cabinet decision in March 2021.

The proposed merger of Rhyl and Carlton primary schools would take effect in time for the start of term in September 2021.

The Early Years provision of the proposed merged school would see children up to Year 1 based at the Carlton site, while children from Year 2 to Year 6 would be based at Rhyl’s location.

Carlton’s site and facilities would remain in use for the school’s local community and for the benefit of children and their families. The aim would be to develop innovative new early years, family, youth and community support services.

Read a joint statement from the headteachers of both schools here.

A full public consultation on the proposal took place from 28 September to 16 November and the Council received 83 online replies and met with 85 consultees. During this time, the Council held a series of public meetings and included online and face-to-face sessions with social distancing measures in place. The Council also ran an online questionnaire, which enabled everyone to safely have their say.

You can read all the responses in the Cabinet papers.

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.

Read the full Cabinet paper here.

Background information on the proposals:

  • At Carlton, the aim is to create an educational and community hub that helps break down barriers to educational success and social mobility in the Queen’s Crescent area. The Hub would be co-ordinated and managed by Rhyl Primary School
  • Early conversations with families and the community have highlighted demand for the following services:
    • Nursery provision for 2 to 5 year olds, with related children’s centre services
    • Family services for ages 0 to 2, also as part of a children’s centre
    • An inclusion programme for Year 7 children to ensure successful transition to secondary school
    • A crime prevention programme including:
      1. youth workers
      2. victim support
    • Adult learning and employment services, including English for speakers of other languages (ESOL) and support into training and work
    • Co-working space for local community businesses who give back to the area e.g. social enterprises
    • Special educational needs support services
    • Youth and volunteering services.