CamdenNewJournal

The independent London newspaper

Plan to merge Carlton and Rhyl schools due to falling rolls

Carlton has faced months of uncertainty about its future due to a shortage of pupils

26 March, 2020 — By Helen Chapman

Carlton Primary School

EDUCATION chiefs are proposing to merge two primary schools to tackle falling numbers of pupils, the New Journal can reveal.

The plans drawn up at the Town Hall involve closing Carlton primary school, near Queen’s Crescent, in September 2021 but expanding nearby Rhyl primary school.

It is the latest option under review amid a campaign to save Carlton, which has seen its future under threat due to a falling intake.

Under the plan, the Carlton school building would be retained by the council for “educational purposes” but it is not clear what these would be.

Parents are fighting the proposals in a bid to keep the school and suggest using part of the building for nursery children.

The council insist no plan is a done deal. A cabinet meeting had been due to take place on April 1, although it is unclear what course will be taken now the coronavirus lockdown is in place.

Carlton had proposed alternative ways to use its Victorian building in order to keep the school running, such as early-years provision, adult learning, supporting children making the transition from primary to secondary school, and providing a victim support network for families affected by crime.

Other plans for Camden’s schools due to the pupil shortage include merging St Michael’s primary school with Our Lady’s.

And Argyle primary, Netley and St Dominic’s primary schools, meanwhile, will reduce capacity by 15 spaces each under the proposals.

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.”

She added: “We have listened carefully to the school, its staff, parents and the community who have all stressed the importance of the school, and its location at the heart of Gospel Oak and, as a result, the council and Rhyl primary school are committed to the continuation of education on the Carlton site and its development for new community provision.”

Carlton headteacher Jacqueline Phelan, and Helen Connor, headteacher of Rhyl, said in a joint statement: “Camden does not believe that it can sustain Carlton as a one-form entry. However, they recognise the impact of Carlton in the local community. We are pleased Camden are now proposing to utilise both sites to develop a new and innovative approach to the delivery of educational and community services working together.”

“Camden will be consulting on the way forward for the schools and community through a public consultation, and both Rhyl and Carlton staff will be playing an active role in the consultation process to ensure that the wellbeing and educational outcomes for local children are central to any future plans.”

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