Plans to merge two schools with falling pupil numbers set to be discussed by councillors at meeting

Cotsford Junior School in Horden.
Cotsford Junior School in Horden.

Plans to amalgamate two schools which both have falling pupil numbers are set to be discussed next week.

Durham County Council is proposing to merge Cotsford Junior School and Cotsford Infant School, both in Horden, in order to create a larger more viable establishment from September 1 this year.

As part of the proposals the council’s cabinet will be asked to approve changing the age range of Cotsford Junior School to accommodate children aged between four and 11 and to close Cotsford Infant School as a registered school, when it meets on Wednesday, April 3.

Both schools play a leading part in education provision in Horden, however the council has said that pupil numbers are falling, making it increasingly difficult for the schools to stay as they are at the moment.

By 2023/24 the capacity for the infant school is predicted to only be at 43% and at 54% for the juniors, meaning in time the schools will become too small, with limited budgets, to continue to provide a good quality of education for the children and their families in the area.

A consultation carried out in November and December 2018 received only positive responses, with a number of them highlighting that a single primary school would be a better use of resources.

Olwyn Gunn, Durham County Council’s Cabinet member for children and young people’s services, said: “We must continue to provide the best possible education for all children in County Durham and with our schools facing unprecedented funding cuts keeping things as they are may not achieve this.

“Strong evidence suggests that continuity of learning has a significant impact on pupils’ progress and the fewer moves children make during their time at school the better they perform.

“We have consulted with local councillors, school governors, parents and all relevant stakeholders, who support our plans to amalgamate the two schools together in order to provide a more viable establishment for the future.”

The proposed primary school will be located on the existing site of the current junior school with reception class being taught in the Horden One Point Hub adjacent to the school.

If the plans are approved a covered walkway from the hub to the school will be constructed and a distinct area created for reception and early years outdoor learning at the hub.