Two Derbyshire schools to be closed as part of plan for new £7m centre

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Two schools in Derbyshire could be sold off, merged, and reopened on a new site as a combined £7 million primary.

In 2013, Derbyshire County Council opened the £14.9 million Tibshelf School in Doe Hill Lane, on the outskirts of the village – a new secondary school to replace the dilapidated Tibshelf Community School off High Street.

After the school moved to its new site, all its old buildings, apart from the changing block, were demolished.

The changing block and former playing fields are still used by football and athletics clubs.

Now the former site, which covers 58,839 square metres, lies vacant.

The county council has this week pitched a plan to use 28,700 square metres of the site for a new primary school, merging the current Tibshelf Infant and Nursery School and Tibshelf Town End Junior School – which have combined repair backlogs exceeding £1 million.

In 2016, the county council looked into the possibility of building a new school on the High Street site, close to the current site of Tibshelf Infant and Nursery School.

However, its highways department found that to make the site usable and meet modern standards, part of the infant school would have to be demolished to allow sufficient access.

Tibshelf Town End Junior School, which lies just to the south of the village, in Alfreton Road, is seen as “very restricted” and does not have sufficient playing field space.

The county council says there is also a repair backlog of £636,555.

It has a pupil capacity of 196, with 174 on roll, but there is  “no scope” for enlargement.

Meanwhile, the infant and nursery school is already at its maximum pupil capacity of 130 and also sits on a “constrained” site with a repair backlog of £389,261

Both schools are set to be hit by the impact of 227 new houses approved for the village – which are set to see the need for 45 more primary school places.

Now the county council, at a meeting on Thursday, February 28, is looking to start a consultation into plans to merge the infant and nursery school and junior school into a primary on the former Tibshelf Community site.

It is thought that the cost of the new school would be £7 million, with £2.35 million set to be made by selling off the infant and nursery and junior school sites.

The two schools could be formally closed and reopened as a combined primary on the former Tibshelf Community site.

Or, the two governing bodies which oversee the schools could merge to form a “federation”, retaining separate Ofsted inspections and budgets, but having one head teacher and leadership team.

Another option would be for the schools to remain where they are with no change.

The consultation would take place from March 14 to May 10.

A report on the topic says: “The availability of a site on the former Tibshelf School site creates an opportunity to review the organisation of primary school provision in the village.

“There is scope to effectively merge the two schools and create a primary school. Primary schools are seen to have a number of advantages over separate infant and junior schools, and in recent years, a number of infant and junior schools have merged.

“A primary school is able to organise and coordinate the teaching across the primary years, and there is no need for a transition between infant and junior schools; the transition from infant to junior can be unsettling for some children and impact on educational progress.

“The infant and junior schools in Tibshelf are not located on the same sites and, as a consequence, parents may have children in two schools at separate locations within the town, presenting travel and time issues in getting children to school.”

The county says that a new-build primary school would “enhance the quality of education”.

To take part in the consultation email or write to Sue Pegg (sue.pegg@derbyshire.gov.uk) Development Section, Chatsworth Hall, Chesterfield Road, Matlock, DE4 3FW by Friday, May 10.