Pirton Primary may take in Hexton children after controversial plan to close school

Hexton JMI School could permanently close in July next year.

Hexton JMI School could permanently close in July next year. - Credit: Google Maps

Pirton Primary School may start taking in pupils from Hexton – ahead of a decision being made on Hexton JMI's future.

The county council is already consulting on the future of Hexton JMI – which is one of the county’s smallest schools, but they have yet to determine whether or not to go ahead with controversial plans to close it. 

Nevertheless, on Monday councillors backed plans to consult on changes to nearby Pirton Primary School’s admissions arrangements, because the school’s existing policy prioritises children ‘for whom it is the nearest school’. 

But that priority would not include children from Hexton – whose nearest school would be Ramsay Manor Lower School in Central Bedfordshire, which is said to prioritise a ‘catchment area’ which does not include Herts. 

Education officials have now drawn up plans to include ‘children living in the parish of Hexton’ in Pirton’s admissions criteria to provide ‘an element of certainty’. 

The change would allow any future children living in Hexton to access places at Pirton Primary without disadvantaging children living in Pirton and the immediate surrounding area. 

Executive member for education, libraries and lifelong learning Cllr Terry Douris said: “If it is ultimately decided to close the Hexton school then those children from Hexton will be prioritised immediately following those children living nearest to Pirton school as a new ‘rule five’ in the admissions code – and that provides access without disadvantaging Pirton children.” 

Pirton can currently take up to 25 new children a year. This will be kept under review to ensure the school ‘has sufficient capacity to meet local demand’. 

Meanwhile, the county council continues to consult on plans to close Hexton JMI – which can take up to 70 pupils but is less than half full. 

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In drawing up those plans, education officials have suggested low pupil numbers at the school make it difficult for teachers to plan the curriculum, and they have also pointed to forecasts of future low demand and fears about its future financial viability. 

Nevertheless, the closure plans have been opposed by the school’s governing body. 

Consultation on the proposals to close Hexton JMI from August 2022 will continue until November 3. 

To submit your views, visit the consultation portal.