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Crunch time for school merger plans

'Births in our borough have fallen by almost 20 per cent from 2012'

27 August, 2020 — By Helen Chapman

CRUCIAL talks are being held next week as council chiefs look to formalise plans to shut a primary school despite a year-long parents’ campaign.

Town Hall plans due to be debated next week involve shutting Carlton primary school, near Queen’s Crescent, in September 2021, while expanding nearby Rhyl primary school.

Falling numbers of primary school-age children living in Camden have led to an admissions crisis, notably in less affluent areas of the borough. A chronic shortage of family-sized social homes combined with soaring private rents is forcing families to move away.

There are also plans to merge St Michael’s primary school with Our Lady’s in Camden Town, while Argyle in King’s Cross, Netley in Regent’s Park and St Dominic’s in Gospel Oak are also facing reductions in capacity of 15 places each.

The future of several nurseries are also in doubt. There will be a scrutiny committee debate on Wednesday with a decision on how to move forward from the cabinet on Thursday.

The cabinet meeting agenda online states the council is seeking “approval of one-off investment of £700,000 of council resources” to fund the proposals and to support schools affected.

Carlton’s vice chair of governors, Peter Ptashko, said: “As a governing body it’s true that we have been disappointed with how the council have dealt with this process – but there is no ideal solution to these borough-wide challenges. It is our hope that teaching personnel from Carlton will still be involved in teaching children in the new, merged, school.”

Conservative leader Councillor Oliver Cooper said: “Camden desperately needs to require larger homes and shared ownership models, so more families can live in Camden. Until the council makes Camden a family-friendly borough, it will simply kill off our schools one by one.”

Education chief and Labour councillor Angela Mason said: “Births in our borough have fallen by almost 20 per cent from 2012 which, along with other changes, means that some of our schools have high numbers of unfilled places, creating significant funding challenges for them.”


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