Smaller capacity Marlwood School will focus on villages

February 01 2021
Smaller capacity Marlwood School will focus on villages

MARLWOOD School is set to reduce its capacity, to help make it an "attractive proposition" to families in nearby villages.

Castle School Education Trust, which runs the Alveston secondary school, is consulting on plans to formally reduce its public admissions number – the maximum number of 11-year-olds who can join each year – to 150 by September 2022.

That would give the school a maximum capacity of 750, down from the current total of 1,050.

However it recognises that numbers at the school have been considerably below capacity for some years, standing at 442 at its last Ofsted inspection just over a year ago.

CSET chief executive Will Roberts said: “Numbers are significantly lower than they were a decade or so ago because of new schools being built in Bristol and Bradley Stoke, so what we’re in the process of doing, as part of the £14 million capital investment into buildings at Castle and Marlwood, is to reduce the footprint to what is needed for the villages in the area surrounding Marlwood.

"We are amending the admissions number for the buildings we will have.

When Marlwood opened in the 70’s, most of the children actually came from Bristol and not from the villages. What we want now is for it to be a smaller school which serves the local villages – we’re not trying to bus hundreds of kids in from Bristol.

There are advantages to being large or small and we want it to be an attractive proposition for local parents whose children come from village primary schools.”

The school lost many pupils during a difficult period where it was struggling with the impact of budget cuts on its staffing, and back in May 2017 it was put into special measures by the education watchdog Ofsted.

But numbers entering the school in year 7 have been rising for the last four years, with almost 120 children due to start this coming September.

Marlwood has been hailed as turning a corner under the leadership of head teacher Del Planter (pictured above), who was appointed at the start of the 2018/19 academic year.

The last Ofsted report praised his "ambitious vision" and said the school was ‘good’ in three out of four inspection categories, although it required improvement overall.

The £14m capital investment plan will address ongoing maintenance costs with buildings from the 1960s and 70s, across both the Castle and Marlwood sites, which Mr Roberts said were no longer fit for purpose.

The consultation on pupil numbers for Marlwood was due to finish on January 31, with more details available online at www.cset.co.uk/policies or by calling 01454 862581.