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12 Southend schools could be forced to merge
TWELVE schools could be forced to merge within three years as part of a drive to improve teaching standards.
Education bosses at Southend Council want to tear up the rules surrounding the amalgamation of separate infant and junior schools in the town.
At the moment, schools such as Hamstel Infant and Junior, in Southend, and West Leigh Infant and Junior, in Leigh, can only be asked to join together if a head teacher leaves or pupil numbers become misaligned. But council chiefs want to force governing bodies to the negotiating table.The new rules, if approved, would mean schools would have to be merged by 2015, simply if they share a site, or there are “concerns” about education standards.
In a report for councillors, Jane Theadom, head of school support and preventative services, said: “At the moment, change depends on goodwill, vision and determination from individuals involved. These proposals are being recommended to enable the council to strengthen its approach to school improvement.”
Government research has proved children perform better when they are not forced to move between schools at the age of seven. In 2003, the council drew up a policy it hoped would encourage same-site infant and junior schools to merge.
This led to four deals being struck at what are now Friars Primary School and Thorpedene Primary School, in Shoebury, and Eastwood Primary School and Edwards Hall Primary School, in Eastwood.
But six schools are still separate and have so far resisted pressure to change, leading bosses to believe firmer action is necessary.
The new policy will be debated by councillors tonight, before they make a final decision in September.
The schools that could be affected include Earls Hall Infant and Junior Schools, Westcliff, Leigh Infant and Leigh North Street Junior Schools, Leigh, and West Leigh Infant and Junior Schools, Leigh.
Also Bournes Green Infant and Junior Schools, Southend, Chalkwell Hall Infant and Junior Schools, Chalkwell, and Hamstel Infant and Junior Schools, Southend.