Case reference:             STP/000478

Referral body:              Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council

Proposal:                   To discontinue Bewley Infant School and Bewley
                            Junior School, Billingham and establish a 4-11
                            Primary School in their place.

Date of decision:           23 March 2010

Under the powers conferred on me in Schedule 2 to the Education and
Inspections Act 2006, I hereby approve the proposal to discontinue Bewley
Infant School and Bewley Junior School , Billingham from 31 August 2011 and
establish a 4-11 Primary School in their place from 1 September 2011.

The referral

1. Stockton-on-Tees Council (“the Council”) wrote to the Office of the School’s
   Adjudicator in November 2009 referring its statutory proposal to discontinue
   Bewley Infant School and Bewley Junior School, Billingham and establish a new
   community primary school on the site of the existing schools from 1 September
   2011. The new school will cater for the pupils currently served by the two existing
   schools, and these proposals are related. I will consider them as such.


2. The law requires that a competition should normally be held in connection with
   the establishment of a new school. However, the Council sought and obtained (in
   a letter dated 18 August 2009) the consent of the Secretary of State to publish its
   own proposal without holding a competition. A condition of such consent is that
   the proposal should be determined by an Adjudicator rather than by the Council

3. On 14 November 2009, the Council published notices to discontinue Bewley
   Infant School and Bewley Junior School and to establish a new Community
   Primary School. The notices were in the necessary form as required in Schedules
   3 and 4 to the School Organisation (Establishment and Discontinuance of
   Schools) (England) Regulations 2007 (the "Regulations"). No objections to the
   proposal were received. Following the consultation period of six weeks, the
   Council referred the matter to the Schools Adjudicator, and provided supporting

4. I am satisfied that this proposal has been properly referred to me in accordance
   with Schedule 2 to the Act and that, therefore, I have jurisdiction to determine this

5. In considering this matter, I have had regard to all relevant legislation and

6. I have considered all the papers put before me including:

             documents detailing the proposals;

             the summary of the statutory consultation on the proposals;

             related papers submitted to the council’s Cabinet;

             maps showing the location of primary schools in Billingham and of
              secondary schools in the BSF programme for Stockton-on-Tees;

             a letter from the DCSF confirming approval of the council’s Strategy for
              Change for the primary capital programme;

             information about projected pupil numbers in Billingham primary

             a copy of the statutory notice; and

             the most recent Ofsted inspection reports for both schools.

The Proposal

7. The proposal is to amalgamate Bewley Infant and Bewley Junior Schools to
   create a single primary school in their place.

8. This would be a 4-11 mixed primary school providing 420 full-time places. Bewley
   Infants has places for up to 150 full time 4 to 7 year olds and 78 part time pupils.
   In October 2009 Bewley Infants had 165 full time and 50 part time pupils on roll.
   It was therefore oversubscribed. Bewley Junior School has places for up to 243
   full time pupils aged 7 to 11. In October 2009, the school had 194 full time pupils
   on roll. The proposal is to replace both these schools with a new school. The new
   school would offer an additional 27 full time places. It would include a Foundation
   Stage Unit for up to 78 part time nursery pupils.

9. The proposal is that the existing schools should close on 31 August 2011 and the
   new school should open on the combined sites of the two existing schools on 1
   September 2011. All pupils on roll at Bewley Infant School or Bewley Junior
   School at the implementation date would be transferred to the roll of the new
   school unless parents wished otherwise, in which case they would be free to
   apply elsewhere.

10. The proposed new primary school has been included in the primary capital
    programme for 2010-11. The estimated costs of £3.5 million would be met by the
    local authority as part of this programme.
Consideration of Factors

 Standards of Education at the School

11. Bewley Junior School was inspected in June 2008 and judged to be a good
    school. “Achievement is good because of the positive attitudes of pupils to their
    learning, the good curriculum and teaching”. In the Infant School, inspected in
    2007, “standards overall are above average by the time pupils leave the school at
    the end of Year 2”.

12. The local authority believes that the proposal will support improved continuity and
    consistency in teaching and learning for pupils, offer enhanced career
    opportunities for staff and enable economies of scale in management. It is
    expected that the new school will continue to promote the principles and good
    practice of the two closing schools in continuing to raise standards.

The School Roll and Pupil Projections

13. Projections of pupil numbers for September 2011 indicate likely demand for 394
    places. Thereafter, demand is projected to rise steadily, reaching 435 in 2014.
    The proposal would provide the necessary additional places.

    History and Consultation

14. In 2006, the council consulted on a proposal to amalgamate the two schools in
    the existing buildings across the two sites. There was no support for that idea and
    so no firm proposal was put forward.

15. The consultation on this proposal for a primary school in a single, largely new
    building for which funding has been secured has had a different response. Some
    questions were raised at meetings and there were three email responses, one
    supporting the proposal, one opposing it and one (received after the consultation
    period had ended) expressing the view that there was no need for change as
    both schools were successful.

16. Parents raised issues about the particular pastoral ethos of small infant schools,
   the value of the change at transition, loss of specialist expertise of staff, the
   potential disruption of building works, impact on staff jobs, behaviour issues, the
   reduced budget and the reduction in parental choice, given that the Bewley
   schools are the only remaining Infant and Junior schools in Stockton. Several
   parents felt that there was no reason to change two good schools.

17. Governing bodies raised issues about traffic management, impact on staff jobs,
    and disruption caused by building work on the site.

18. However, following discussion both governing bodies now support the proposal.
   The head teacher of the Infant School is, in principle, a supporter of separate
   infant schools, but is content for this amalgamation to proceed. The head teacher
   of the junior school supports the proposal
Extended services and Community Cohesion

19. The intention is for the new school to offer before and after school child care, and
    a range of clubs. Childcare is in short supply in the area. A range of facilities will
    also be provided for parents, contributing to community cohesion in the
    neighbourhood. The school will work collaboratively with other Billingham

Finance and Site Arrangements

20. The estimated cost of the new school is 3.5 million. This has been allocated from
    within the council’s primary capital programme. The new school will receive
    roughly £68,000 per annum less (out of a total budget of £1.3 million) but costs
    will be lower. Overall there will be little difference.

21. The new school will be located on a site consisting of the two adjacent sites of
    the existing schools. It will be fully accessible. Building work will be planned in
    such a way as to minimise disturbance to the existing schools.


22. During the consultation parents raised questions about the pastoral ethos of
    small infant schools and the value of a transition change. These are valid points
    but outweighed by the benefits offered by eliminating the transition dip and
    increasing continuity and consistency in teaching and learning. Continuity and
    consistency in managing behaviour will also be increased in a merged school.
    The amalgamated site is large enough for any potential disruption from building
    work to be minimised. There will be some reduction in parental choice and also
    potentially in jobs. But times are not easy and councils will need increasingly to
    look for economies of scale of this sort. Moreover in this case both children and
    the wider community will benefit from new buildings and additional facilities.

23. I therefore approve the proposal to discontinue Bewley Infant School and Bewley
    Junior School and to establish a new primary school in their place on the
    amalgamated site.


24. Under the powers conferred on me in Schedule 2 to the Education and
    Inspections Act 2006, I hereby approve the proposal to discontinue Bewley Infant
    School and Bewley Junior School from 31 August 2011 and to establish a new
    4 -11 community primary school in their place from 1 September 2011.

                                           Dated:      23 March 2010


                                           Schools Adjudicator: Janet Mokades

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