This follows the decision by Hampshire County Council’s Executive Member for Education, Councillor Peter Edgar, to formally close Fort Hill at the end of the current academic year and amalgamate it with Cranbourne.
Councillor Edgar commented, “I have considered the responses to both the statutory Public Notice and the public consultation that was held earlier this year. I have also reviewed the circumstances that led to the proposal to close the school and merge it with Cranbourne Business and Enterprise College.
“On balance, it is my view that the amalgamation must proceed if we are to ensure that young people are able to enjoy a broad and varied curriculum and a good standard of education. I am fully aware that there are some very strong feelings locally about the move to close Fort Hill Community School, for which I have the utmost respect. However, in making this decision, my focus is on what is best for the students. In my considered opinion, combining Fort Hill with Cranbourne is the right thing to do.”
Arrangements will now be made for the two schools to be combined on the Cranbourne site, since the Fort Hill site is not large enough to accommodate a combined school for Years 7 to 11. However, the County Council has stated that the Fort Hill site will continue to be available for two years, in order for the current Years 9 and 10 to be educated there, if the governors decide that would be the best arrangement for them. The pupils’ education would be under the direction of Cranbourne Enterprise and Business College.
A new staffing structure for the combined school will be created, with the school continuing to be led by Cranbourne’s current headteacher, Jane Aplin.
Amalgamation of the two schools was recommended to address the issue of decreasing numbers of children attending Fort Hill, and the school’s current underperformance. The decline in pupil numbers means less funding for the school, adversely affecting its ability to offer a full and varied curriculum.
Schools’ budgets are determined by the number of pupils attending the school. In recent years, the number of pupils on each school’s roll has been reducing - out of a total of 145 places available in Year 7 (the first year of secondary school education), there were just 38 applications for the FHCS as a first choice, this coming September.