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DETERMINATION

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					                             DETERMINATION


Case reference:            STP/000301

Referral body:             Stockport Metropolitan Borough Council

Statutory proposal:        To modify the dates on which Stockport
                           Borough Council will (1) discontinue Fir Tree
                           Primary School, North Reddish Infant School
                           and North Reddish Junior School and (2)
                           establish a new community primary school on
                           a new site at Harcourt Street.

Date of decision:         18 February 2008


Determination

Under the powers conferred on me by The School Organisation
(Transitional Provisions) (England) Regulations 2007 I hereby approve
the request from Stockport Metropolitan Borough Council to modify the
date to (1) discontinue Fir Tree Primary School, North Reddish Infant
School and North Reddish Junior School and (2) establish a new
community primary school on a new site at Harcourt Street. The three
schools will be discontinued with effect from 31 August 2010 and the
new school will be established from 1 September 2010.

The referral

   1. Stockport Metropolitan Borough Council, the local authority (“LA”) wrote
      to the Office of the Schools Adjudicator on 17 December 2007 to
      request (1) a modification to the implementation date for its proposal to
      discontinue Fir Tree Primary School, North Reddish Infant School and
      North Reddish Junior School (“the schools”) and establish a new
      community primary school on a new site at Harcourt Street and (2) to
      open the new community primary school in the existing school
      buildings until such time as the new school is built. The modification
      would have the effect of delaying the implementation date from 31
      August 2008 and 1 September 2008 respectively to 2009, and
      changing the location of the new school until such time as the new site
      is ready.

   Jurisdiction

   2. The proposal fell to be determined after the abolition of the Stockport
      School Organisation Committee (SOC) and was therefore referred to
      me in December 2007 as an adjudicator in accordance with transitional
      arrangements contained in regulations made under section 31 of the
      Education and Inspections Act 2006. Stockport SOC approved the
      original proposal to discontinue the schools and open the new
      community primary school on the new site in December 2005
     conditional on obtaining the necessary planning permissions.

  3. The School Organisation (Transitional Provisions) (England)
     Regulations 2007 allow the adjudicator to modify the proposals after
     consultation. I am satisfied that I have jurisdiction to consider this
     matter under the relevant powers.

Consideration and decision

  4. When the Stockport SOC considered the proposal in December 2005
     to discontinue the schools and establish the new school there was no
     reason to anticipate that the necessary planning permissions would not
     be obtained and the building work undertaken to enable the proposal to
     be implemented in 2008 according to the timescale in the proposal.

  5. Since 2005 the LA has had to deal with enquiries and actions that have
     regrettably delayed the work needed to implement the proposal. At the
     time the LA requested the modification it had yet to obtain planning
     permission. However, planning permission was granted on 17 January
     2008.

  6. On 24 January 2008 I visited the three schools and the site of the new
     school. I invited the headteachers and chairs of governors of the three
     schools and a representative of the LA to meet with me to assist me in
     understanding the proposal.

  7. The request to modify the implementation date for the proposal is
     within my jurisdiction, but the modification to the location of the new
     school is too great a difference from the proposal approved by
     Stockport SOC to be within the scope of a modification.

  8. I am fully persuaded that the quality of education of primary-aged
     pupils in North Reddish would be enhanced by the provision of the
     proposed new school. The LA has dealt properly with the various
     actions and queries put to it, but this has delayed progress towards
     implementing the proposal. I greatly regret that the losers while the LA
     has responded to the issues raised, such as the condition of the
     Harcourt Road site, have been the children.

  9. It has become obvious that the building for the new school cannot be
     completed in time for the school to open on 1 September 2008. The
     LA has considered, with the schools, options to overcome the problem
     of not having the new school building ready for occupation by
     September 2008. The outcome is that the LA has requested a delay of
     one year in closing the three schools and opening the new school, but
     even in September 2009 the new building would not be complete and
     the new school would operate as a split site school in the separate,
     existing buildings until the new school is ready for occupation. The
     delay until 2009 would allow preparations concerning staffing and the
     curriculum to be managed carefully even though there would be
     difficulties in operating as a single school. I am concerned that the
     changes needed to operate as a single school on three sites and then
      to move to the new site would cause considerable disruption to the
      children’s education.


   10. As I cannot approve the split site arrangement which is too great a
       divergence from the original proposal I consulted with the LA and
       schools on a modification to the LA’s request. The modification would
       be to the implementation date of the proposal as originally agreed by
       Stockport SOC such that the proposal for closing the three schools and
       opening the new school would take effect from 31 August 2010 and 1
       September 2010 respectively. This further delay would mean that
       preparations for the new school would be thorough and there would be
       plenty of time for all those concerned to arrange to make the best
       possible provision for the children and staff, and there would be least
       disruption to the children’s education. The LA and one school fully
       support this modification. One school wishes to keep the
       implementation date of 2009 as first requested by the LA. While I
       understand the reasons for this concerning the staffing arrangements
       at the school, I must consider the proposal as a whole.


   11. Having considered all the papers presented to me, my observations of
       the schools and their premises and the options available to me, I have
       concluded that I should modify the date for the implementation of the
       proposal to 2010.

Determination

Under the powers conferred on me by The School Organisation
(Transitional Provisions) (England) Regulations 2007 I hereby approve
the request from Stockport Metropolitan Borough Council to modify the
date to (1) discontinue Fir Tree Primary School, North Reddish Infant
School and North Reddish Junior School and (2) establish a new
community primary school on a new site at Harcourt Street. The three
schools will be discontinued with effect from 31 August 2010 and the
new school will be established from 1 September 2010.




                            Dated: 18 February 2008


                            Signed:

                            Schools Adjudicator: Dr Elizabeth Passmore

				
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