Scilly One Of Only Two Areas Predicting Lower Pupil Numbers By 2017

An off-island primary school base on St Agnes

An off-island primary school base on St Agnes

Scilly is one of only two places in the country predicting a decline in the number of children needing primary school places by 2017.

All other Local Education Authorities except Northumberland are expecting a rise of up to 33%, caused by a recent baby-boom.

The figures were released on Wednesday, the day that Education Secretary Michael Gove announced an extra £2.3bn funding for new classrooms.

There are 148 primary places in Scilly, which are expected to rise to a peak of 160 next near followed by a decline to 136 by 2017.

But the small numbers of children on the islands mean it’s difficult to make meaningful predictions.

At October’s Children and Young People Committee, head of Children’s Services Joel Williams said that tiny fluctuations in the birth rate creates big problems for childcare places from year to year.

Children’s Services Commissioning Manager, Keith Grossett, said the forecasts are based on the actual number of births registered on the islands and the low movement in and out of the school.

And he says the predictions shouldn’t significantly affect school funding. The money announced by Michael Gove is for building new facilities, to relieve the pressure faced by many mainland authorities.

It’s separate from the normal school revenue stream, funded through the Isles of Scilly education grant.

This, says Keith, isn’t based solely on pupil numbers but takes account of our isolation, the split-site nature of the school and the additional costs associated with having to offer a broad curriculum to relatively low pupil numbers.