Brackley children write to Rishi Sunak and King Charles about their school closure

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Brackley children have written to Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and King Charles to ask them to help prevent their school from closing.

Southfield Primary School is due to close next July after the Department for Education (DfE) approved a plan for closure and the move of pupils to other schools.

On Sunday, current and past pupils, parents, grandparents and concerned neighbours showed their strength of feeling about the plan.

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Parent Weaver said: “Parents are still concerned about the lack of information and reasons for the closure. At the final school listening meeting, parents were told birth rates were falling and that there were not enough children to fill the school.

Parents and children gather outside Southfield School, Brackley to protest about closure plans on SundayParents and children gather outside Southfield School, Brackley to protest about closure plans on Sunday
Parents and children gather outside Southfield School, Brackley to protest about closure plans on Sunday

"A freedom of information request to West Northants Council contradicts this; the council predicts the Magdalen area will see 205 more primary pupils over the next five years. This confirms what WNC admissions staff said in the first listening meeting, that moving Southfield children was a short term fix and there would be problems in the future.

"Where are these 205 children going to be educated? West Northants Council figures show that village schools cannot handle this capacity. Key Stage 1 will be full in Brackley next year. DfE guidance states places should be in Ofsted rated good schools but there are no such key stage 1 places available in Brackley.”

He said parents believe West Northants Council effectiveness in supporting this school has been poor.

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"West Northants Council decided some time ago not to bring a Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) unit to Brackley and build a new school in Tiffield instead,” he said. "They continue to have no plan for SEND provision at this end of Northamptonshire.”

Mr Weaver said the decision to close the school sits with the Department for Education.

"Asked by a parent in a FOI request to provide the closure proposal, value for money/viability assessment, equality impact assessment, request to terminate the funding agreement and other evidence, the DfE replied by restricting the information under sections of the FOI act 2000,” he said.

“The DfE have not replied to Andrea Leadsom MP and have attended no listening meetings. The trustees at the school have been parachuted in by the DfE to close the school. They have no connection with Brackley. The school’s articles for association that detail selecting trustees have not been followed in full and no parent or community trustees have been sought since April 2022.”

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Parents of Southfield children have asked for the information that should exist before a school is closed. Most of that information has been withheld, they claim. “That which has been shared only confirms that this is a short-sighted decision that will impact negatively on Brackley residents,” said Mr Weaver.

In a letter to parents WNC said: “...the council is now working with other local schools to review available places in the Brackley area. We will aim to simplify the application process and whilst parents or carers have the right to express a preference for their choice of new school, we will be working hard to make places available at a nearby school that can hopefully accommodate all of the children currently attending Southfield. This is to ensure friendship groups are maintained and that siblings can stay together wherever possible.”