MP for Brackley area calls for government to urgently review closure of primary school

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MP for South Northamptonshire Andrea Leadsom has called for the Secretary of State for Education to urgently review the closure of the Southfields Primary Academy in Brackley.

On October 5, staff, pupils, and parents at Southfields were told of the Department for Education’s plan to close their school by July next year.

This started a campaign to save the school from angered and frustrated parents, who gathered more than 1,300 signatures on an online petition and lobbied their local MP.

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Upset parents have been questioning the decision and evidence behind the closure, particularly the impact on school places in the town and the future shortage of places.

Brackley's Southfield Primary Academy, which is set to close down in July 2024.Brackley's Southfield Primary Academy, which is set to close down in July 2024.
Brackley's Southfield Primary Academy, which is set to close down in July 2024.

MP Andrea Leadsom wrote a letter to Secretary of State for Education, Gillian Keegan, on Monday October 23, saying: “Recently, I attended an extraordinary meeting of the Brackley Town Council regarding this closure.

"My constituents are worried that the proper procedures have not been adhered to, as outlined in the document Closure of an Academy by Mutual Consent: Guidance for All Types of Academy Trust.

“To date, it appears that the school Trustees, Governors, and Local Authority have been unwilling or unable to provide interested parties with evidence of their "Closure Proposal," including supplementary supporting evidence and an Equality Impact Assessment. Parents assert that there has been a complete lack of transparency in the information provided to stakeholders and the sources of information used to support the case for closure.”

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The school maintains it will be closing at the end of this academic year due to the fall in numbers on the school roll and debt owed to the now-defunct Northamptonshire County Council.

Andrea added: “Concerned parties do not believe that sufficient efforts have been made to increase revenue through pupil recruitment and nursery provision.

"Parents and carers have raised concerns that moving Southfield Primary School's students to available places in Brackley will lead to an oversaturation of the system, with no availability for in-year transfers from outside the area, both this year and in future academic years.”

The MP went on to write about how Brackley, as a growing town with approximately 12,000 new houses planned, will be in need of much more school places in the near future.

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She also said that the school could gain financial viability by offering special educational needs and disability provision, which would prove vital considering the local shortage of school places for SEND children.

Andrea Leadsom finished by saying: "In all the circumstances, I would be grateful if you would please arrange for an urgent review of the important issues raised by concerned parents, carers, and staff of Southfield School, and let me have your comments as soon as possible to enable me to report to them.”

Members of West Northamptonshire Council have also written to the Department for Education with concerns about how the school’s closure will affect life in the town.

Cllr Fiona Baker said: “We have written ‘formally to the DfE to express concerns about the possible closure of the school, highlighting specific concerns about medium-term growth in Brackley’.

"Despite this, parents have received no information from West Northants Council on the medium and long-term projections for primary school pupils in the Brackley area.”