Posted: Thu 11th Jun 2015

Council look to close John Summers High School in August 2017

News and Info from Deeside, Flintshire, North Wales
This article is old - Published: Thursday, Jun 11th, 2015

Flintshire County Council has launched the eagerly awaited consultation into the future of John Summers High School.

The proposals, if supported by Cabinet and the Welsh Minister for Education and Skills, will see John Summers High School close its doors for the last time in August 2017.

Winding down will start when the post 16 provision transfers to the new post 16 hub at Coleg Cambria in Sept 2016.

The consultation involving parents, other local schools, governors, MP’s, Police and Crime commissioner, health board and many others will now take place, it is due to close on 17th July 2015, a public meeting is expected to be held at JSH on Thursday 25th June.

A report will then be submitted to the council’s cabinet for consideration at a special meeting in late July however, given the current ‘run of form’ with Flintshire County Council consultations such as the Deeside incinerator and local library closures, many see the process as nothing more than a tick box exercise in increasingly wonky local decision-making.

The original plan was to invest millions building a new school on the JSH site, driven by a projected increase in pupils into the school from the proposed Northern Gateway project.

Despite spending nearly £75,000* on planning and consultant fees the Council put the project on hold when data ‘emerged’ suggesting  a new school wasn’t viable.

The Council cited the increasing number of unfilled school places, around 2113 within Flintshire secondary schools, and a predicted decline in birth rate.

In the end the £18.5m plan couldn’t be justified according to the council, the business case needed to support funding from the Welsh Government simply did’nt stack up.

Parents with children at JSH in 2017 will now have a choose another Flintshire school however, the closest, Hawarden High has the drawbridge well and truly pulled up due to it being over-subscribed for years to come.

Connah’s Quay High School will be the main receiving school if proposals go ahead, the council say projections for 2017 show there will by 300 unfilled places at the school, around the same number of year 7 to 13’s currently at JSH,  St David’s in Saltney is another option again if projections are to be believed there will be 300 spare places there too.

Transport to and from either school would not be automatically subsidised by the council due to Connahs’ Quay being less than the three miles away, St David’s Saltney isn’t the nearest alternative school, so again responsibility would be on hard-pressed parents to pay for transport or drive them to school, adding to the already over congested morning and afternoon school run in Deeside.

Plans for Queensferry campus once John Summers has been bulldozed aren’t clear yet and are still being ‘investigated’ by the council, idea’s include;
• Improvement to primary provision at Queensferry Primary School (3-11)
• Improvements to the existing Youth Service provision on the campus;
• Improvements to Pupil Referal Unit facilities in Queensferry,
• Demolition of John Summers High School and making good the site in
preparation for new/remodelled buildings.

While the consultation document looks at the community impact the closure would bring in terms of a loss of a vakued facility, it doesn’t address the potentially devasting effect on community ‘fabric’ in one of the most deprived area’s in Wales.

Research has shown house prices are pegged to school locations and the closure of a 300 pupil school will leave the area less of an attractive proposition for young families to stay in, weakening the housing market in Higher Shotton will open it up further to speculative landlords cashing on the transient tenant market, who often have no links or ‘roots’ in the area.

One comment on our Facebook post about the consultation said;

“I chose my house because it had a high school within a reasonable walking distance. I can not afford the bus fare to CQ for them and they will not qualify for free transport so my children face a 40 minute walk along the main road to and from school every day”

While another said:

“Flintshire cc are being so short sighted..local nursery/ junior and primary schools are full to breaking point..all these pupils(my daughter included) will need a place in high school before to long…where are they all supposed to go????”

Another comment clearly worried about the disrption changing schools will cause.

“Fantastic news!!! My daughter will be in year 9 in 2017 so that’s going to be a massive disruption to her schooling life… Friends of hers may well choose different schools as the option so there’s another serious change within her young life. Many others will be in the same position…. As if young people aren’t ‘confused’ enough these days!
Way to go fcc! What a load of tosh!!”

You can read many more comment’s here: Facebook

Read the consultation document here: Flintshire County Council

 

*Figures from an FOI request.

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