Page last updated at 11:39 GMT, Sunday, 22 November 2009

School merger proposals discussed

generic school children
It was originally feared that some schools would have to close

Changes to the education system in part of Dorset are to be discussed by councillors this week.

Dorset County Council has already agreed to replace Purbeck's three-stage system with a two-level equivalent to shed 1,000 excess places.

Falling pupil numbers had led to fears that some schools in the area may be forced to close.

Among the options being discussed by the council is the merger of two schools in Swanage.

Other proposals being considered include the conversion of some first schools into primaries.

Councillors and education officials will meet this week to discuss how the plan could affect schools in Swanage and Wool.

'Serious problem'

Recommendations being put to the council include amalgamating St Mark's Church of England (CE) and St George's CE schools in Swanage and converting two Swanage schools, St Mary's Roman Catholic (RC) and Swanage First, and two Wool schools, St Mary's Catholic School and Wool CE First, to primary schools.

Dorset County Council's head of learning and school improvement John England said: "We have said before that we have a serious problem on our hands with pupil numbers in Purbeck falling and the probability of schools being forced to close because they will not have enough pupils to survive.

"There are many changes being made to children and young people's education - particularly for 14 to 19-year-olds.

"Purbeck needs a school system that gives all children in the area the same experiences and opportunities to make the most of their lives as the rest of Dorset."

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