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HomeNewsIvydale: Nunhead school not considering cutting intake in Southwark Council u-turn

Ivydale: Nunhead school not considering cutting intake in Southwark Council u-turn

A Nunhead school is not considering cutting its admission numbers or closing its new building after an outcry from parents and a local councillor.

A consultation letter sent to parents asked them for their views on cutting Ivydale Primary’s intake from 90 to 60 from September 2023, as the school was running a budget deficit.

But a few days later, the council told the News that admission would now not be cut, after Labour councillor Victoria Mills started a petition against the changes. One Ivydale parent told the News ahead of the u-turn that the proposed changes were “disappointing”.

Controversy had arisen over what would happen with the school’s second building if admissions were cut. The building opened on nearby Inverton Road just three and a half years earlier in 2018.

New building at Ivydale Primary School inspired by Julia Woolf’s “The Fox in the Forest” painting

Rumours had spread on social media that the council would demolish the RIBA-award winning building and build housing on the site instead. Southwark’s education lead Cllr Jasmine Ali said in no uncertain terms that this was untrue and the building would remain part of the school.

She added: “As Deputy Leader and Cabinet Lead for Children, Young People and Education, I can confirm that: the Council has moved Ivydale from the proposals to be considered at Cabinet on Pupil Admission Numbers (PAN) and therefore the PAN for Ivydale remains at 90. The cabinet report is being urgently updated to reflect this.

“The school is currently running a budget deficit and that will need to be resolved to ensure the future sustainability of the school. At no point had the Council considered building on the school site and social media comments on that are unfounded.

Schools get funding from central government based on the number of children that study there. The council’s original argument for cutting intake was to ensure that the school is not undersubscribed, which could mean that it gets less funding per student.

Despite this, the letter told parents that “the school recruited up to 90 for the academic year 2021/22, and is likely to do so for 2022/23”.

Admissions at three other Southwark primary schools – Ilderton Primary in south Bermondsey, Dog Kennel Hill Primary in East Dulwich and Cobourg Primary in Camberwell – are also slated to be cut from 60 to 30 in response to falling intake numbers.

The news comes after consultations on two school closures in Walworth in 2021 because of falling pupil numbers. The council started asking parents at Townsend Primary School what they thought about the closure on January 3, with the school slated to be closed by September. St John’s, also in Walworth, closed at the end of the last school year. Parents at both schools said they were devastated by the closures.

Southwark Council’s Annual Public Health Report for 2019 found a steady decrease in the numbers of children born in the borough since 2010. There were under 4,400 in 2017, down from over 5,100 in 2010

Discussing Ivydale, Cllr Ali added: “The current demographic changes impacting on pupil numbers such as the declining birthrate, uncertainties of Brexit and now a pandemic which has shown that it is now possible to maintain a job in London while living further afield remain a risk for many London primary schools.

“The Council is committed to working with all Southwark schools, parents and the local community on plans to navigate our way through demographic challenge.

Ivydale did not comment.

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