Shelton Lower School enters consultation period

Falling pupil numbers causes budget deficit

Central Bedfordshire Council has launched a consultation (23 April) asking for views about the future of Shelton Lower School. This includes the possibility of closure.

The school has been hit by falling pupil numbers and is currently two-thirds full.  The falling numbers of pupils has impacted the school’s funding so much that it is currently in financial deficit.

Councillor Steven Dixon, Executive Member for Families, Education and Children, said:

“Unfortunately, despite Shelton Lower School’s great reputation there aren’t currently enough pupils attending the school to make it financially viable.”

Only five new applicants

Only five children are requesting a place in the September intake out of a total admission number of 15. Numbers are forecast to fall further.

“A decision to close a school is not taken lightly and is only after all other options have been explored. That is why we are asking anyone with a view on the situation to complete the consultation which is launching today. Your opinions are very important, and all feedback will be considered in the decision-making process.”

The council was called in by the school’s governing body

Parents first became aware that closure could be a possibility in March. The announcement was made after the school’s governing body contacted the council about the budget deficit.

Councillor Steven Dixon said:

“Shelton Lower School’s governing body is responsible for running the school. The governors alerted the council to the deteriorating financial situation in February.”

The council has been in discussions with the school’s head teacher and governors to explore all possible options.

When parents were originally told about the consultation, they did not realise that the process was started by the school governors contacting the council.

Caroline Burns, a PTA member, said:

“The PTA only became aware of the governors’ decision to contact the council on Friday [20 April].”

Councillor Steve Dixon said:

“I understand this is unsettling for parents and if closure is decided we will work with parents to find new school places for their children.”

There will be a public meeting about the consultation at the school on 30 April 2018, starting at 6:00pm.

The consultation runs until Friday, 8 June and a final decision will be made at a meeting of the council’s Executive on Tuesday, 7 August.

To have your say and read the full consultation document, visit www.centralbedfordshire.gov.uk/consultations

Paper copies of the consultation document are also available at the school.

The school governors were approached for a comment, but did not respond.