By Marilyn Barber
The number of children admitted to Hillside First School in Verwood could in the future be reduced from 60 to 30 children.
Wimborne Academy Trust has begun a consultation process on this issue as it says there has been a reduction in the number of young families living locally.
The change would mean that Hillside would have one class per year group instead of two.
At present there are 90 school places in Verwood each year for children wishing to attend a church school, and a further 60 places for families who wish to choose a non-denominational education.
In a letter to parents, David Morgan, chairman of the Academy Committee, Hillside First School said, “If the proposed changes take place, there will be 90 church school places and just 30 non-church school places. This should not be a discussion about being anti-religion, but rather pro-choice. Local families, unable to secure a non-denominational school place will be forced to travel of out catchment for their education.”
Mr Morgan said that a reduction in the number of school classes will also result in decreased funding for Hillside, and an inevitable reduction in the number of teaching and support staff. He said this could easily lead to the deterioration of the school’s provision.
He added, “The decision could affect the viability of the Preschool, as well as the wrap around care provided through the Breakfast Club and After School Club. A lack of viable wrap around care will negatively impact the decision to pick Hillside for working parents.
“The building of new homes in Verwood is likely to result in around 200 new houses over the coming year, and as a consequence, it seems short sighted to reduce the number of school places available.”
The consultation ends on Friday 15 January, and Mr Morgan is urging parents and local people to put forward their views in writing to the school or by emailing email@example.com.
Liz West, chief executive of Wimborne Academy Trust, said: “Our consultation at Hillside about a change in admission numbers relates to the September 2022 intake and does not affect those children intending to join next year.
“Currently none of the five reception classes in Verwood are at capacity and pupil number projections suggest they won’t be full for the next few years.
“It has therefore been necessary to look ahead at the school’s published admissions number (PAN), and we are keen to receive responses to the public consultation before the closing date of 15 January.”
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