Council accused of 'duping' governors

NORTH Somerset Council has been accused of being 'less than honest' and 'duping' school governors into allowing less children to attend their schools - to fill spaces in others. In February, the Weston & Somerset Mercury highlighted the plight of the Vang

NORTH Somerset Council has been accused of being 'less than honest' and 'duping' school governors into allowing less children to attend their schools - to fill spaces in others.In February, the Weston & Somerset Mercury highlighted the plight of the Vangasse family whose son was denied a place at Glebe Infant School in Congresbury despite the fact they live within walking distance of the school. The children of four other families have since been turned away, being told it was 'over-subscribed'.However, North Somerset councillor Tom Leimdorfer says he has council documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act showing the demand for places at the school was 33-37 for this year and next, but claims the governors were told it was 20.Cllr Leimdorfer says there is a 'deliberate strategy to fill spare places in schools in surrounding villages' which was kept from the governors, who thought they were facing falling demand for places. The council claims it consulted with governors and there is no such strategy.It says the admission number was cut to comply with legal requirements to have no more than 30 children in a class.Cllr Leimdorfer said: "The governors feel they have been duped into agreeing a lower admission number."Glebe Infant and St Andrew's schools have served the community without problems in the past. Both schools have spare capacity and have catered for numbers 50 per cent higher than at present. The whole policy is up the spout."At a Congresbury Parish Council meeting on Tuesday, Cllr Mary Short said: "North Somerset Council has been less than honest with Glebe Infants School governors and the parish council."This policy is affecting the sustainability of the village and the families and blighting their lives." Glebe Infant School governors have told the council they are willing to organise the school with mixed age classes and offer places to extra children without breaching the legal limit of 30 per class.St Andrew's Junior School governors have also contacted the authority concerned about the long term effects on both schools if the admission number remains at 30.If an agreement is not reached the governors will complain to a Government adjudicator.A North Somerset Council spokesman said: "The latest projections indicate the school will have 73 pupils in September. If it operated mixed aged classes in the short term it may not be able to keep classes to legal limits in future years.


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