Report Seeking Approval to Consult on the Closure of The Lyndale School
- Meeting of Cabinet, Thursday, 16th January 2014 6.15 p.m. (Item 129.)
- View the background to item 129.
The Leader of the Council, having welcomed everyone to the meeting invited Dawn Hughes, a parent of a child at Lyndale School to address the Cabinet. She spoke of the particular needs of the children at Lyndale School and gave a personal account of her own child’s needs and experiences which she felt could only be provided for at Lyndale School. She also circulated to the Cabinet a paper with comments from parents at the school and spoke against any proposals to close the school.
The Director of Children’s Services then introduced the report, which sought agreement to undertake a consultation on the closure of The Lyndale School.
The report outlined the background and reasons why it was felt necessary to consult on the future of the school. The closure of the Lyndale School was proposed for consideration because the viability of the school was compromised by its small size and falling roll, which both contributed to a difficult financial position. Over the last 7 years average occupancy at the school had been 59%. She emphasised that this was not being put forward because of the quality of education or standards at the school. The most recent Ofsted inspection in November 2012 had judged that Lyndale School was a good school.
The Lyndale School had a delegated schools budget of £761,733. The report gave details of the expected shortfall in the school’s budget for 2014-15 which would be approximately £72,000. This was 9% of the school’s budget and was likely to increase over time. Any single place reduction in the school’s roll would represent a loss of £10,000 to the school’s base budget. A reduction within the school to 24 places (i.e. a reduction of 16 places) might result in further losses of £160,000 pa. This would give an overall deficit position of £232,000.
The report also gave details of a twelve week consultation process which would commence if the Cabinet were to agree the recommendation. She stressed the importance of placing the needs of the children at the school at the centre of the Council’s concerns.
The Cabinet Member for Children and Family Services thanked Dawn Hughes for her presentation to the Cabinet. He would ensure that officer support was available to parents to answer all questions during the consultation process. No options had been ruled out and any new options which were put forward during the consultation period would be considered. He felt that the consultation period of 12 weeks would be sufficient time and he would visit the school to meet parents, teachers and governors.
The Leader of the Council thanked Dawn Hughes for her clear and insightful presentation. He stressed the importance of allowing sufficient time for all options to be considered and to keep an open mind on all these options. Eight options had been identified in appendix 2 to the report and any other options which emerged during the consultation process would also be considered. No decision was being made at this meeting other than to consult around the options.
(1) Cabinet agrees to consult on the closure of The Lyndale School;
(2) the Director of Children’s Services (or her nominee) be authorised to compile and produce the appropriate Consultation Documentation and proceed with the Consultation exercise as soon as practicably possible.