Isle of Wight Council

29 Nov 2022

Support for Chillerton school parents

The Isle of Wight Council has pledged to do all that it can to support parents of pupils at Chillerton and Rookley Primary School to find alternative education for their children.

The pledge comes after the school said it faced the very real prospect of reopening after the Christmas holidays without a qualified teacher in post to teach the remaining ten pupils on site, across three year groups.

Today (Tuesday), the council said it had written to parents to explain that it has a legal duty to ensure children receive a suitable education.

Given the school's present challenges, the council said it was clear this could not be provided at the Chillerton and Rookley site from January 2023, and it would therefore work closely with parents to find alternative school placements for their children.

At the same time, it stressed this was not a school closure and should the situation around pupil numbers and staffing change in the future, the decision would be reviewed.

It is possible for pupils to remain on the roll of Chillerton and Rookley Primary; in such cases, the federation will make sure suitable education is provided at its Godshill Primary site. If parents choose to take up this offer, free home to school transport will be provided by the council.

For parents who wish to send their children to another school, the council's admissions team will guide them through the process.

Councillor Debbie Andre, Cabinet member for education, said she was deeply saddened by the situation.

She said: "The school was hoping that the positive outcome of their recent Ofsted inspection, when it was judged to be a 'Good' school, would encourage more parents to send their children there.

"Despite good coverage in the media and a wider marketing campaign, sadly this has not happened; in fact numbers of pupils have further declined.

"The very small numbers mean sustaining a varied, thorough curriculum to each child is impossible, due to the lack of similar aged peers and the wide age range across the class. It also makes providing the necessary social and emotional experience for each child very challenging.

“I would like to give credit and my grateful thanks to headteacher, Mark Snow, his staff and the Board of Governors, who have acted with the utmost professionalism throughout and always put the wellbeing of the students under their care as the priority.

"To receive a 'Good' rating from Ofsted under such conditions is testament to their dedication to providing a high standard of education and this was endorsed by their leadership being praised in the Ofsted report.

"We certainly did not want to be in this position, but we have run out of options as things currently stand and it's with a very heavy heart that we have had to take this decision.

"It is important to note, however, that this action does not constitute a school closure and the council will review the decision should the situation change."

Governors said pupil numbers had continued to decline this term while the school's only teacher was due to leave next month. Despite a recruitment campaign launched specifically for this post, advertising both locally and nationally across a range of media, no applications were received.

Although Godshill Primary is currently fully staffed, there is no spare capacity to allow for a teacher to transfer to the Chillerton and Rookley site as that would leave a class at Godshill without a teacher.

Councillor Andre added: "We understand this will be a difficult time of transition for both parents, pupils and the local community.

"However, they have my absolute assurance that we will do everything possible to support them and their children so that they can continue to receive the best possible education that the Island has to offer.”

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Chillerton and Rookley Primary School
Chillerton and Rookley Primary School
Factfile
  • It is possible for pupils to remain on the roll of Chillerton and Rookley Primary; in such cases, the federation will make sure suitable education is provided at its Godshill Primary site.
  • The council will review the decision should the situation around pupil numbers and staffing change.
 
Isle of Wight, UK