Decision on merger of two St Ives schools is delayed

Westfield Junior School in St Ives. Picture: GOOGLE

Westfield Junior School in St Ives. Picture: GOOGLE - Credit: Archant

A decision on whether two Huntingdonshire schools suffering “deficiencies” with their buildings could be merged has been pushed back following a discussion at Cambridgeshire County Council.

Eastfield Infant and Nursery, and Westfield Junior Schools in St Ives were built in 1969 and 1964 respectively. Over the years, extra demand for pupil spaces has led the schools to add a number of mobile classrooms.

Eastfield school currently provides early years education and childcare for children aged two to four years, all of which is currently delivered in the mobile accommodation.

In a report to the county council’s children and young people’s committee, it was noted there were “deficiencies with both schools’ current accommodation” which needed to be addressed.

In September, it was agreed in principle to establish an “all through primary school”, amalgamating the existing Eastfield Infant and Nursery, and Westfield Junior Schools.

On November 13, the committee discussed how to go through with the merger, before resolving to defer a decision until next month, until more information is available to the committee.

According to a report which went before councillors: “There is a deficit in existing accommodation at both schools. In particular at Westfield.

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“There is insufficient space to deliver the wide range of interventions and small group support required by pupils.”

The report also said the staff room was undersized, there was a lack of spaces for confidential meetings for example, and it was difficult to store supplies and cook within the limited space available.

The committee was asked to consider how best to address the problems. Option one was to expand both infant and junior schools, and add an out of school club and nursery. The total cost, £10.816m would include £3.146m for a 10-year condition maintenance programme to maintain both schools.

Option two was to create an all-through primary school but operating on two sites. The two sites would be 160m away from each other.

The Eastfield site would function as early years facility with nursery and Reception classes and also provide “wrap around” care through the existing out-of school provision on the site. An expanded Westfield site would offer primary provision for KS1 and KS2 classes. The total cost would be £9.715m including £3.146m for a 10-year condition maintenance programme for both schools. According to the report, there are no other models like this in Cambridgeshire.

Option three involves building a new primary school with early years provision, located on the existing school site.

The original cost estimate for this was £15,130,000, including demolishing the two existing schools. The final cost is more likely to be in the region of £14million.