Proposal to change the age range of Shillington Community Lower School
Consultation closed: midday on Wednesday, 15 March
Description of proposed alteration
We intend to change the age range of Shillington Community Lower School from 4 – 9 to 2 – 9 years.
Evidence of demand for proposed alteration versus need, including results of preliminary consultation
Shillington Under Fives, a registered charity which had operated a pre-school provision since 2006 out of premises within the grounds of Shillington Community Lower School, closed in December 2016.
Joint efforts had been made by the pre-school committee and the governing board of Shillington Community Lower School to enable the pre-school to continue but the lack of staff made this untenable and the pre-school was forced to close. The school undertook a consultation during May/June 2016 to gauge local opinion for the school’s proposal to lower their age range from 4 – 9 years to 2 – 9 years and integrate a pre-school provision. People were encouraged to respond and to say whether they agreed with the proposal.
They were also given the opportunity to attend a parent forum and to provide comments. A total of 52 responses to the consultation confirmed overwhelming support for the proposal to extend the school’s age range.
In addition, Shillington Under Fives (pre-school) discussed the proposal at its AGM on 20 June 2016 and held a vote on the merger. The required two thirds majority of those present under the consultation was obtained and therefore agreement to the merger was confirmed.
As an expanding rural village, Shillington continues to need its own pre-school provision and being part of the School would make it sustainable for the future. There is no other formal pre-school provision in the village, other than local childminders who have little capacity to take on extra children.
Objectives - including how the proposal would increase educational standards and parental choice
The consultation document issued by the school regarding the proposed change of age range included the following reasons for the proposal:
- a secure and sustainable future for quality pre-school provision in Shillington
- continuation of full day, and half day, session provision
- one team of qualified staff working closely together across the age range throughout the school day
- continuation of the appropriate age-range Early Years curriculum
- repair and refurbishment of existing building to provide Early Years accommodation and a separate room for use of the school (including the nursery provision) and as a base for the before and after school club –funded partly from Under Fives and partly from the school budget
- fully integrated provision with opportunities for nursery children to utilise school facilities e.g. field, hall, group room
- reduction of transition points from school to school in children’s learning journey in line with our ambition “to achieve a single phase of education 0-19 and reduce school transfer points”
- a greater number of pupils on the school roll resulting in a stronger financial base
Before/after school care provided by an outside company on the school site. As included above, the proposal removes one of the transition points from school to school in children’s learning journey, in line with our ambition to “reduce school transfer points”. This should have a positive impact on educational standards and allow a more seamless transition from the nursery unit to school.
Shillington Community Lower School is an Ofsted ‘good’ school and integration of the pre-school into the school would also drive up educational standards, and allow early intervention. NFER (National Foundation for Educational Research) baseline entry data indicates that children currently coming into the school from pre-school are coming in below children from other providers most notably in speech, language and communication, phonics knowledge and attitudes to learning and behaviour. This is challenging for the school, as the children need to make significant progress in Reception class ready for Year 1.
Responses to the consultation confirmed that parents would welcome the proposal and would choose the re-established provision, stating that a pre school within the village enables children to establish friendships ahead of Reception class and enables all of the village children to be together in a safe secure setting.
The effect on other schools, academies and education institutions in the area
There would be no adverse effect on other similar provisions within the area. The next nearest pre-school is in Gravenhurst which is currently almost at capacity. The potential increase in funded hours for working parents (the 30 hour offer), is likely to result in an increased demand for pre-school hours within the area.
Project costs and indication of how these will be met
The day to day running costs of early years and childcare provision is met through revenue funding which is made available to each setting as part of the Dedicated Schools Grant and Central Bedfordshire’s nursery education funding.
The accommodation previously used by Shillington under Fives was funded through ‘Sure Start’. Our Early Years team will seek the accommodation to be transferred to the school. The governing board of Shillington Community Lower School propose to ring fence residual funds for the nursery unit. The governing board plan to invest to improve the condition of the building from the schools current surplus funds.
The anticipated increase in the number of local pupils coming through nursery unit in future will result in a stronger financial base for the school. The project will also deliver a secure and sustainable future for pre-school provision in Shillington.
Education standards and diversity of provision
Children coming to the school from the pre-school are currently low on entry – NFER baseline data clearly shows a disparity between Shillington Under Fives and other settings.
The majority of admissions come from the pre-school and their collective low level entry impacts on the curriculum delivery and the need to make accelerated progress with significant early intervention required. There is a strong correlation between children from other pre-school settings achieving exceeding outcomes at the end of EYFS.
Under the school’s direction, the early year’s curriculum would be aligned to ensure smooth transition into reception and the EYFS curriculum with aspirational expectations, consistent phonics delivery and a values-based education to promote positive attitudes to learning and behaviour.
There will be a marginal increase in the size of the school through the addition of a nursery unit – and the nursery unit will receive funding from early years funding and parental payments.
Proposed admission arrangements
The admissions procedure for the school will not change and Central Bedfordshire’s admissions policy will continue to be adhered to. Children in the pre-school/nursery class at Shillington Lower School will need to apply for their statutory place (year R) in the starting school admissions round, as there is no automatic transfer to the year R group from the nursery class and no guarantee can be given by us or the school that children from the nursery class will gain a place within the main school.
The school will continue to follow the age-appropriate National Curriculum.
Equal opportunity issues
There are no sex, race or disability discrimination issues which arise from this proposed change.
Shillington Community Lower School is an accredited values-based education school which underpins the ethos and behaviours of the school and has a strong community ethos. This will be extended into the nursery provision. There is strong support from the local community for the proposed change as evidenced by the results of the school’s consultation.
Travel and accessibility
There will be no change in the location of the pre-school; it will remain on the school site, retaining the provision in the village for those who do not have access to transport.
School premises and playing fields
The premises to be used by the pre-school have a dedicated outdoor area. The integrated provision will provide opportunities for the nursery children to utilise the school’s facilities, including the field.
Proposed stages for implementation
It is proposed that the change be implemented from 1 September 2017.