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Last Updated: Tuesday, 21 December, 2004, 12:19 GMT
Birth rate prompts school rethink
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Ripple School protesters gathered outside public meetings
Population changes have led to growing numbers of empty primary school places, Kent County Council (KCC) has found.

KCC's scrutiny committee wants to know how the problem will be addressed.

Committee chairman Mike Eddy said: "We've not enough young children to take primary school places which will ultimately affect secondary schools."

He said the problem was less severe in housing growth areas of Ashford and Kent Thameside, but provision needed to be addressed across the whole county.

Falling birth rate

Mr Eddy said: "There is a fall in the number of children across the whole of the country and it's particularly severe in certain parts of Kent."

He said the impact would be less in Ashford and the Kent Thameside area, but that even there, falling numbers would still be a trend.

"One of the problems we have is that if we have a very small reduction in the number of children at a primary school, it is not the case that we can just take out a class, because a class is a complete year group."

He said any decisions made by KCC were affected by the Schools Adjudicator which had highlighted the lack of a plan for the whole area.

Potential closures

"It is all very well picking on what you think is the weakest school, or the one with the least effective business case, but the reality is you have got to look at the whole provision within an area."

He said the recent case of Ripple Primary, where the council had planned to close the school, but the adjudicator backed a campaign to keep the school open, had done the county council a favour.

"It is forcing KCC to look again at how it approaches potential school closures," he said.

"What we have to do it look at the whole of the provision across an area," he said.




SEE ALSO:
School to 'draw lots' over places
24 Oct 04 |  Southern Counties


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