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Home » Islington Pooles Park School Closure Halted By Academy Move

Islington Pooles Park School Closure Halted By Academy Move

Islington Council said it was forced to consider closing a primary school rated ‘good’ by Ofsted after one rated ‘inadequate’ was allowed to become an academy.

Just days after councillors had approved plans to shut half-empty Pooles Park Primary School in Finsbury Park, it was announced that it would be taken over by an academy trust.

Following the school’s ‘inadequate’ rating in November 2022, the Department for Education issued an order for it to become an academy, as the law requires schools that have received the lowest Ofsted rating to do so.

The Bridge Multi Academy Trust was approved to run the primary school by the department’s advisory board in summer 2023, saving it from closure.

READ MORE – Suspected murder victim pictured for first time Islington Council says this meant it had no choice but to look at “other solutions” to combat falling pupil rolls in the area.

It has now proposed to shut Montem Primary School through a merger with Duncombe Primary School.

The Blessed Sacrament Roman Catholic Primary School near King’s Cross is also earmarked for closure.

Montem is rated ‘good’ by the education watchdog – and parents have claimed it is “illogical” that it should shut instead of Pooles Park.

Toni Alexander, whose autistic 11-year-old son attends Montem, claimed that other schools should be “merging with us” and not the other way around.

She said: “All of us understand the reasons for closing schools, but we also understand it’s illogical that ‘inadequate’ schools cannot close.

“We are not just saying that our children go to this school, so we don’t want it to close; we’re saying that this isn’t how to do this.

“They’re talking about merging us with another school when we’re above national average academically.”

The authority describes Montem as being two-form entry – it has two reception classes – which would put its vacancy rate at more than 50% in reception.

The school disputes this, claiming that it was due to move to 1.5 entry from September 2024, putting its vacancy rate closer to 36%.

The council says that for every unused pupil place in Islington, the school will miss out on an average of £5,500 a year.

Academies receive their funding direct from the Government and are independent of local authorities.

READ MORE – Drug dealers jailed after undercover police operation A council spokesperson said: “We are disappointed that the Department for Education’s decision to issue an academy order for Poole’s Park means that the council needs to look at other solutions.

“The proposals to amalgamate Duncombe and Montem primary schools will allow us to ensure educational excellence at Duncombe alongside the school’s leadership team.

“We will take the best elements of both schools and will continue to safeguard the strong SEND provision currently on offer at Montem.”

A Department for Education spokesperson said: “In the rare cases where schools receive an inadequate Ofsted rating, like Pooles Park, we put in place support for them to improve as quickly as possible, in the best interests of pupils, families and staff.

“The Bridge Multi Academy Trust is a strong local trust which can work with the school to drive improvement.”