Consultation on the proposed closure of Westcott Church of England School

Closes 13 Mar 2024

Opened 31 Jan 2024

Overview

Buckinghamshire Council logo Westcott Church of England School logo Oxford Diocesan Board of Education logo

We are seeking your views on the proposed closure of Westcott Church of England School, Westcott.

It is with deep regret that we, on behalf of the Governing Board of Westcott Church of England School and the Oxford Diocesan Board of Education (ODBE), are seeking the views of parents and carers, staff and other stakeholders on the proposed closure of the school. 

If a decision is taken to close the school, it is proposed that this would take effect on 31 August 2024. 

Why is this being proposed?

Westcott Church of England School is a small, rural primary school for children aged 4 to 11. The school has a published admission number of 15 with a capacity for 105 pupils. 

The school has been under-subscribed for a number of years. Pupil numbers fall substantially short of the school’s published admission number. As of October 2023 the school had 34 pupils, with 7 pupils across Key Stage 1 (i.e. Reception, Year 1 and Year 2). 

School admissions for September 2024 currently show one first preference for Westcott Church of England School. 

Ofsted’s inspection in June 2022 and May 2023 recognised the school as ‘Inadequate’. Since then, the school has had high teacher turnover and many pupils have left the school. 

Schools are mainly funded by the number of pupils attending the school. As a result, delivery of a full and balanced curriculum at Westcott Church of England School is difficult with the small and decreasing number of children and staff. 

Based on these factors, and despite the best efforts of governors, staff and the support of the Council and ODBE, we are consulting on behalf of the Governing Board on the proposal to close Westcott Church of England School. 

What would this mean for pupils at the school?

Should Westcott Church of England School close on 31 August 2024, parents and carers would be able to express a preference for a place at an alternative school. 

We would manage this process. Parents and carers would be asked to complete an in-year admissions application form. Up to three preferred schools can be named. 

We would aim to meet parent and carers’ preferences wherever possible, but cannot make guarantees as this will depend upon vacancies at the time. 

We will have a focus on pupils with an Education Health and Care Plan (EHCP) and ensuring the right levels of support continue to be in place for pupils who need it. 

Support with the in-year admissions process

Our Admission Officers would be available to support families with completing in-year applications for school places for start in September 2024. 

The earliest window to complete an in-year admissions application form for a September 2024 start is from 7 May to 3 June 2024. 

All applications would be considered together and not on a first-come, first served basis. Applications can be made and places held before the final decision whether to close the school or not is made. 

What would this mean for staff at the school?

The staff group is aware of the circumstances and the recognised trade unions have been notified of the consultation. 

Staff are invited to submit responses to this consultation. There will also be a separate consultation for staff from 8 February to 14 March 2024. 

Staff can join the Employee Transfer Register. All affected staff will be provided with support and further information. 

Closing a rural school

There is a presumption against the closure of rural schools. This does not mean a rural school will never close, but the case for closure should be strong and clearly in the best interests of educational provision in the area.

There must be evidence to show the following factors have been carefully considered:

  • availability of places across the wider area
  • educational offer at the school
  • the impact on the community
  • alternatives to closure including collaboration with other schools / trusts 
  • admissions and transport implications

We have considered all these factors which are outlined in our consultation document.

Related documents

Before you respond to this activity, please have a look at the following document:

1 February 2024

Please note that this consultation document in relation to the proposed closure of Westcott Church of England School contains a minor revision from the version first published on the 31 January 2024. It was quickly brought to our attention by consultees that there was an error within the paper relating to the community provision in the village. The consultation document has therefore been updated and corrected.  We can assure you that the error makes no material difference to the proposal being taken forward and we apologise for any inconvenience or confusion caused by this error. 

Events to find out more

The Governing Board, with the support of the Council and the ODBE, are hosting two public meetings to find out more about the proposal on: 

Representatives from the Governing Board, Buckinghamshire Council and the ODBE and will be present.

You do not need to book to attend this event.

How to have your say

You can tell us your views in one of the following ways:

If you have any questions about this activity, please email us at westcottceconsultation@buckinghamshire.gov.uk

Please tell us your views by 11:59pm on Wednesday 13 March 2024.

What happens next

Westcott Church of England School Governing Board, together with the Council and the ODBE, will consider all the responses and take a decision on whether to proceed to the next stage and publish a statutory notice to close the school.

Statutory notice and representation period

When the statutory notice is published, there is a four week period in which you can make any further representations to the Council. We would expect the representation period to run from 24 April to 22 May 2024. 

Final decision on proposed closure

The Leader of Buckinghamshire Council, in consultation with the Cabinet Member for Education and Children’s Services, will take into consideration any representations made before making a decision on the final outcome. We would expect this decision to be made in July 2024. 

If the decision is taken to close the school, it is proposed that this would take effect on 31 August 2024. 

Privacy

We will use the information you provide here only for this activity. We will store the information securely in line with data protection laws and will not share or publish any personal details. For more information about data and privacy, please see our Privacy Policy.

If you have questions about data and privacy, please email us on dataprotection@buckinghamshire.gov.uk. Or write to our Data Protection Officer at Buckinghamshire Council, The Gateway, Gatehouse Road, Aylesbury, HP19 8FF.

Give us your views

Areas

  • Aylesbury
  • Haddenham and Waddesdon

Interests

  • Schools & education
  • Children & young people
  • Corporate & legal