Overhauled Purbeck school system to be challenged

A decision to overhaul a three-tier school system in Dorset could be challenged by staff and parents.

County councillors recommended four Purbeck middle schools - for nine to 13 year olds - should shut in Swanage, Bovington, Wareham and Sandford.

But Sandford Middle School is now planning to appeal.

The new system is expected to be implemented during a two-year transitional period starting from September 2012.

The area's 13 first schools, for four- to nine-year-olds, will become primary schools for four- to 11 year olds.

The council said there were 1,200 surplus school places in the area but the new primary schools and a secondary school would get a £36.5m upgrade.

The change would cost £2.3m, the council said.

'Not convinced'

Andy Kent, from Purbeck Parents Action Group, said: "We've heard all sorts of arguments about the capital expenditure that needs to be reduced within the county.

"I think the reorganisation is going to be pushed ahead on the minimal shoestring budget, then it'll all get swept under the carpet and forgotten for 10 or 15 years.

"I am not convinced that there is enough money to do this properly."

A six-week public consultation was held ahead of the council vote.

The schools involved will have the right to refer the matter to the Department for Education's national adjudicator.

Toni Commbs, Dorset's cabinet member of children and young people, said: "Change is always difficult particularly when it is your child's education."

She added that the surplus places were "not benefiting the children's education".

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