Dear Parents and Carers,
You may have heard that Southwark Local Authority are working on ways to respond to the decreasing number of primary school pupils, and the financial impacts upon schools in Southwark. This is set out in the Council’s “Keeping Education Strong” strategy and was approved by the Council in June 2023.
The Governing Body has been advised by Southwark Local Authority, that Comber Grove Primary School should think about amalgamation with another school in the local area due to changes in pupil numbers. If this happened, this would mean the school would join with another school in the local area, bringing together the staff and pupils. This proposal is at a very early stage and negotiations with other schools that may be in a similar position will take place soon.
This type of decision does not happen overnight, and consultations will have to be carried out, so the Local Authority can hear from you. This will also give you the opportunity to meet the Local Authority to ask any questions you have. If an amalgamation is agreed, a dedicated Project Manager will be assigned to our school. The process for joining with another school will also take time, so we assure you that we intend to continue teaching our children in the next academic year. The date for any potential amalgamation would be the 1st September 2024.
We understand that this is not good news, but please do not worry. Comber Grove is as important to us as it is to you, and we will be there at every stage of the consultation period and any negotiations that may take place. We will ensure that the children are at the heart of any decisions made and support you all through this. In the meantime, we ask that you are patient and assure you that we will let you know as the situation progresses. Southwark have helpfully compiled some Frequently Asked Questions below, with some responses.
Mr Shadab Ahmed (chairperson)
Comber Grove Governing Body
22nd June 2023
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ):
Q: Why Comber Grove?
A: Comber Grove Primary has a falling number of pupils. In 2022, half of the spaces in Reception had
not been filled. This makes it difficult to keep providing the education needed, due to reduced
funding to the school, which is based on pupil numbers. This situation is not unique to Comber
Q: Will there be other schools in the area closing due to lack of budget?
A: The “Keeping Education Strong” strategy that is being implemented by the LA is presently looking
at all schools and it is expected that a small number of other schools will have some form of
intervention. This could mean reducing the numbers of pupils that they can accommodate,
amalgamating or closing.
Q: Has the LA seen such an amalgamation plan work in similar situations?
A: Alma Primary and St James CE Primary amalgamated in 2011-12. Alma closed and St James CE
became a 2 forms of entry primary school accommodating Alma’s pupils and staff. There has not
been a similar situation since this, but the informal process of proposing amalgamation is under way
now at another pair of Southwark schools: Cobourg and Camelot and Charlotte Sharman Primary
and St. Jude’s Primary. If an amalgamation doesn’t work, the Council would propose closure from
September 1st 2024.
Q: If agreed as a plan, how will you ensure a smooth transition?
A: The LA, governors and school staff will work closely with families to ensure that an effective
transition plan is implemented: visiting the new site, meeting the new community, experiencing
learning at the new school, sharing cross school experiences – social events, learning, visits. This will
be done so that learning is the key focus and that pupils’ possible worries and concerns are
managed addressed. Once this is complete, Comber Grove would close from September 1st 2024.
Q: How can I feed into the process? What impact will this have?
A: Families should consider all options, including moving to a new site. All families can make their
views known through the consultation process which will be clearly outlined in future. All views will
be reported and considered; this is a legal obligation – so we must listen