Posted: Mon 12th Jun 2023

High School under threat as Flintshire council weighs up education options for Saltney and Broughton area

News and Info from Deeside, Flintshire, North Wales
This article is old - Published: Monday, Jun 12th, 2023

Flintshire County Council has launched an “early engagement exercise” to seek public views on the future of education provision in the Saltney and Broughton area.

The local authority has said it is “committed” to continuing to modernise the county’s schools to ensure “the provision of a high-performing education and increased opportunities for Flintshire pupils.”

The council has identified several high-level options for primary and secondary education in the area.

These include refurbishing and extending existing school buildings, building a 3-16 campus, or even consulting on the closure of St David’s High School if pupil numbers are not sustainable.

Options for the future of secondary education in Saltney and Broughton have been up in the air since plans for a rebuild of St David High School fell through a few years ago. ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

The council has made it clear that it cannot deliver any change on its own and needs the support of the Welsh Government and the local communities.

It aims to do this by “bidding for significant financial investment from Welsh Government alongside
its capital investment programme to build new, ‘state of the art’ schools for local communities.” According to a document published on the council website.

A council spokesperson said the local authority: “must work within its financial resources, and in the current economic climate there are significant challenges in delivering programmes of change, particularly where rising inflation is impacting budgets and building project costs are significantly higher.”

The council has noted a decline in pupil numbers in the Saltney/Broughton area over the last few years, particularly in the secondary sector.

This decline could impact the long-term future of some schools in the area, potentially making them financially unsustainable and negatively affecting the quality of education offered.

Performance

The performance of primary and secondary schools in the Saltney and Broughton area has varied according to inspections by Estyn, the education and training inspectorate for Wales.

Broughton CP was inspected in July 2019 and received ‘Excellent’ judgements in all five inspection areas. The school was also invited to publish a case study on its work concerning pupils’ involvement in planning their learning.

Saltney Wood Memorial CP was inspected in March 2020 and received ‘Good’ judgements in all five inspection areas.

Saltney Ferry CP was inspected under Estyn’s revised framework in September 2022. While Estyn no longer provides judgements for inspection areas under this new framework, the school was judged to need significant improvement.

The local authority and the regional school improvement service (GwE) are currently supporting the school to address the recommendations made by Estyn. They will monitor the school’s progress about 12 months after the publication of its report.

St David’s High School was last inspected by Estyn in December 2016 and was judged to require significant improvement.

However, Estyn revisited in June 2018 and found the school to have made sufficient progress to be removed from that category.

Since then, the school has continued to receive targeted support from the local authority and GwE for its ongoing improvement journey.

Flintshire Council has said it may have to take “the difficult decision to consult on the closure of St David’s High School because its numbers are not sustainable and provide learners in the area with a secondary education offer elsewhere in Flintshire.”

“If a decision is made to close St David’s High School and pupils are offered secondary provision elsewhere, a new 3-11 Primary School could be built for Saltney Ferry CP and Saltney Wood Memorial on the existing St David’s High School site.” The council said.

St Davids High School is encouraging members of the public to have their say on the proposals, in a statement on its Facebook page, a spokesperson said:

“I appreciate that this is a sensitive and emotive issue and the document contains a number of options which you may have strong opinions for and against.”

“There is a lot of information contained within the documents, so please take the time to read them carefully and ask questions if you wish.”

“The Local Authority will also be engaging with the children in school to understand and gather their views and opinions in the coming weeks.”

The council is keen to stress that “no firm decisions have been made on the future shape of the primary and secondary provision in the Saltney area.”

All responses from this early engagement process – which ends on July 3 –  will be compiled into a report to the Council’s Cabinet, which will review the responses and shape the future of education in the area.

The Council has set up a questionnaire for people to respond and provide their views.

This information is available on the Council website: https://www.flintshire.gov.uk/en/Resident/Schools/School-Modernisation-Related/SaltneyBroughton-Area.aspx.

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