A NEW school system could be in place for Ilminster and Crewkerne by September 2022 if councillors approve plans later this month.

The local authority is set to vote on turning the towns' education structure from three-tier to two-tier.

The current system has first schools, middle schools and upper schools.

A two-tier system features primary schools and secondary schools.

The news was revealed by Swanmead Community School headteacher, Mark Walker.

He said: "Over recent weeks, Swanmead Community School have been made aware of the local authority's intention to formally restructure education in Crewkerne and Ilminster.

"At a recent meeting of the chairs of governors and headteachers, it was explained that these plans would be put to a cabinet meeting on October 21, 2020.

"Ilminster is proposed to become part of a two tier education system replacing the existing three tier system of First Schools, Middle Schools and an Upper School."

The vote will be the latest stage in the ongoing schools saga.

In October 2018, it was revealed that a review was being conducted into the three-tier structure, with the current system being labelled as 'unsustainable'.

The review was carried out by Futures for Somerset and commissioned by Somerset County Council.

But in 2019, Swanmead School applied to become an academy, and was set to join the Bridgwater and Taunton College multi-academy trust.

This would have meant Somerset County Council could no longer dictate how the school functioned, including any change to age ranges.

BTCT also said they were looking into expanding the age range of Swanmead, to accommodate Years 9, 10 and 11.

But Swanmead's move to become an academy was blocked by the High Court in June of this year, to allow the Somerset County Council to decide on the best decision for the towns' schools.

Mr Walker added: "Whilst the proposed change in the area by the Local Authority is not how the Swanmead community had expected its path to be, all at the school will work tirelessly to enact the wishes of Somerset County Council to ensure a smooth transition to the proposed two tier system with an ambitious September 2022 start date.

"We have not seen costings, nor higher level details of the plans for this to be implemented by September 2022, however, we are assured that all necessary steps will have been taken in advance to ensure that all Headteachers and School Leaders in the area have the resource available to carry out this ambitious restructuring.

"At Swanmead, we pride ourselves on the quality of education that we give our children. Over the last four years we have delivered a middle school experience that we believe is the best a young person could possibly have received.

"The fact that our children and parents tell us this everyday means we know that they agree with us. We wish to assure our school community of our complete dedication towards their children and their education at this time.

"We will continue to be a united team of Staff, Children and Governors to ensure any further developments are sensibly and sensitively considered with young people always at the top of the agenda."

The public willbe able to see the full council proposal online from next week.

A Somerset County Council spokesperson said: “It is an absolute priority for Somerset County Council to secure high quality education for every pupil in the county.

"Following a review of schools in the Crewkerne/Ilminster area last year where pupil numbers are falling, a new set of proposals setting out how education could be delivered in the area in future will be discussed by Cabinet on Wednesday, October 21.

"These proposals will be available to view in the Council’s Cabinet Papers from Wednesday, October 14 at democracy.somerset.gov.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx

"These proposals will be discussed at Somerset County Council’s Cabinet meeting on Wednesday, October 21, where a decision will be reached on whether to proceed with a statutory consultation."