Parents are being asked for views about a proposal to move St Thomas’ Church of England Primary School to the same site as Scoill Vallajeelt.
Officers from the Department will meet parents from both schools to discuss the proposal, with meetings taking place 4.30pm on Monday 19th June at St Thomas’ and 4.30pm on Wednesday 21st June at Scoill Vallajeelt.
St Thomas’ School opened in Finch Road, Douglas, in 1870. Its main building dates back to 1875, with an extension added in the 1930s.
Its largest playground is on top of a shop and, although there are two smaller play areas, there is no green space and no suitable facilities in which to meet the requirements of the physical education curriculum, so the school has to use the National Sports Centre.
Classrooms are over several floors, making flexible learning difficult, while the number of children enrolled will exceed the intended capacity by 22 by this September, meaning mobile classrooms are in use.
The town centre site is surrounded on all sides, making redevelopment or expansion difficult and expensive.
Scoill Vallajeelt opened in Meadow Crescent, Douglas, in 1992, accommodating 142 pupils. As pupil numbers grew, a large extension was added in 2005.
However, the roll has dropped significantly as fewer young families have moved to the catchment area.
The school has a permanent capacity for 350 pupils, with 192 registered for September 2017, meaning it could easily accommodate the 72 St Thomas’ pupils.
St Thomas’ is the Island’s only Church of England school.
If the schools were to co-locate, both would retain their names, identities, headteachers, teachers and governors.
The schools’ distinct policies, systems and procedures would continue, allowing parents seeking a Church of England-based education for their child to have that choice. The proposal is supported by the Church of England and representatives of the Diocese.
Graham Cregeen MHK, Minister for Education and Children, said: ‘The Department is committed to providing effective and appropriate accommodation for pupils in all its schools while making best use of its resources.
‘A move to Scoill Vallajeelt would give St Thomas’ pupils access to more modern facilities including a sports hall, dining room, large playing field and open flexible classroom spaces.
‘I hope parents will attend the meeting to share their views and ask any questions they may have.’
The Department of Education and Children envisages the move taking place in time for the start of the 2018/19 academic year.
Photo - St Thomas’ Primary School.