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Parsons Down schools drop proposals to close early on Fridays

Governors at Thatcham schools take account of parents views over cost-cutting option

Parsons Down schools drop proposals to close early on Fridays

PLANS to cut the opening hours at two Thatcham schools in a bid to save money have been scrapped following feedback from parents. 

As reported in last week’s Newbury Weekly News, Parsons Down Junior School and Parsons Down Infant School were proposing to close early on Fridays. 

If the plans had been approved, the junior school would have shut at 1pm and the infants from 1.05pm every Friday from September.

But, following comments from parents, the partnership has decided not to proceed with the proposal. 

A letter to parents, from executive headteacher Donna Shave, said that school governors had agreed with the majority view that closing early would not work for the school community. 

She said: “This was always a genuine consultation, not a decision and the very detailed, thoughtful views of parents are the reason that this decision has been reached.

“Therefore the proposal was amended and the governors were pleased to accept this amendment.

“We are confident that the measures we will put in place will still reduce the budget deficit without compromising the education for children.

“We have taken note of many good ideas that parents have suggested during the consultation.”

The consultation received 153 responses, with 55 (36 per cent) in favour, 83 (54 per cent) against and 15 saying they were undecided (nine per cent). 

The chairwoman of governors at the Parsons Down Partnership, Georgina Perry, said: “The governing board are very pleased that we have been able to find a solution, which means we can support the outcome of the proposal.

“It was always our aim to be able to listen to the views of the community.

“The children will continue to receive a high-quality education five days a week and access the extra curricular activities that we currently provide.

“This, of course, means less of a saving made in this area, but we
will continue to seek savings elsewhere.”

The partnership said it was proposing to close early on Fridays to release teachers from classes for planning, preparation and assessment time.  

It added that the strategy was already used by five or six schools across West Berkshire.

Miss Shave said that the school had been working hard to make savings to regain a balanced budget; making a number of savings in the last 18 months, but still needed to do more.

Schools have to complete a certain number of hours across the week, amounting to 21 hours for KS1 and 23.5 for KS2.

Parsons Down said that infant pupils currently completed 23.5 hours and the juniors 25.7.  

The school has already had to cut the hours of teaching assistants.

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