As part of the plans for the development of South Molton the current Infants School will gain a junior section and the current Junior School will gain an infants section.
The Infants School will expand on its current site whereas the Junior School will move to a new site at Exeter Gate. The option of expanding the Junior School on its current site was looked at but rejected as being impractical.
Because of these proposed changes there has to be a public consultation. The first stage of this will be an “information event” which will take place on the afternoon of Wednesday 28 January. This event won’t be run in the format of a public meeting so it will be possible to attend any time between 3:30pm and 6:30pm.
What concerns me greatly are the proposed catchment areas for the two schools. In my naivety I assumed that the two schools would have the same catchment area, thus giving parents a choice (as mandated by the government!). However it appears that the two schools will two entirely distinct catchment areas. The north of the town will be served by the expanded Infants School and the south by the expanded Junior School. Presumably both schools will be renamed!
The following map shows the detailed catchment area boundary in South Molton itself:
To my mind these catchment areas are a nonsense. Who on earth determined them!
All the developments which currently have planning permission (or are already being built) are to the north of the purple line which runs through South Molton. In other words in the catchment area of the expanded Infants School. (It’s a shame that the map that shows South Molton in detail is so out-of-date.)
It strikes me that what will happen is that there will be a split between ‘town’ and ‘country’. The majority of South Molton being in the catchment area of the expanded Infants School and the expanded (and relocated) Junior School largely having a rural catchment area south of the town.
Something else I find strange is that the Junior School is a Voluntary Aided school. In Voluntary Aided schools the Governing Body is the admission authority and determines the priorities for admission if the school receives more applications than places available. How is it that the County Council seems to be determining the school’s future admissions policy? Or will the new school no longer be Voluntary Aided?
The more I think about this the more I’m wondering whether it might not have made more sense for the Junior School to join with the Infants School. This would mean less disruption for the pupils, parents and staff. It would also mean that the joint school would have a permanent strong leader straight away (the Junior School still has to appoint a permanent head teacher) and the new school could start from scratch. Of course it would probably mean that the Junior School would lose it’s Voluntary Aided status and the C of E, and many parents might not be happy with that.