Plans to merge infant and junior schools would have ‘educational benefits’ for children

Cotsford Junior School in Horden could be merged with the infants school.
Cotsford Junior School in Horden could be merged with the infants school.

An infant and junior school in County Durham could merge as part of plans to tackle falling pupil numbers.

On November 14, council bosses approved a formal consultation to merge Cotsford infant and Cotsford junior schools in Horden.

This follows findings from a Durham County Council review of schools in the Horden area which explored school finances and pupils on roll.

If plans are approved, the schools would have a single leadership team and receive one set of school funding, a loss of around £110,000 per year.

While redundancies could be made if the schools are combined on a single site in future, the new arrangements would save £63,000 per year.

Cabinet member for children and young people’s service, Olwyn Gunn, speaking at cabinet meeting at Durham County Hall, said taking no action was “unacceptable”.

She added the plans would help tackle financial pressures with shared costs and shared leadership alongside the educational benefits for pupils.

Reductions in pupil numbers across all schools in Horden, with the exception of Horden Nursery School, have led to staffing reductions to help maintain balanced budgets in recent years.

Director for finance and deputy leader of the council, Alan Napier, added the amalgamation would offer a “sustainable position for the schools going forward.”

If approved, the new school would open in September 1 next year, subject to consultation between  November 19 and December 30.

The plans will return to cabinet in April next year and if approved, the school will see the creation of a new governing body, head teacher, staffing, opening times and even uniform changes.

Chris Binding, Local Democracy Reporting Service