THREE current South Somerset schools will cease to exist if a wave of changes are approved by the county council.

Next week, Somerset County Council will take a vote on the future school system for Ilminster and Crewkerne - with changes planned for eight local schools.

Councillors will meet on October 21 to cast their vote and, if approved, the changes will go to a public consultation.

SCC hopes to have the complete schools system change in place by September 2022.

Under the new proposals, Misterton First School would be completely abolished, leaving the village without a school.

Meanwhile, Ilminster's Swanmead Community School and Greenfylde First School would be amalgamated into a new split-site primary school.

The process would see one school closed and the pupils numbers expanded into the other school.

However, the SCC proposal said: "The intent would be that this would be a wholly new school with a new name and staffing structure, not the continuation of one school and the closing of the other."

Changes would also be made to the age ranges at Wadham School, Maiden Beech, Merriott, Haselbury Plucknett, and St Bartholomew's School.

The report set to be debated on October 21 said: "The driver for change is securing the high-quality education including a broad curriculum, particularly in Key Stage 4, in the Ilminster and Crewkerne area.

"This objective is put at risk by the long-running and increasing, budgetary overspend at Wadham Upper School as a result of low pupil numbers.

"The County Council has previously written off accrued debt, but since that time the school has continued to accrue debt and on current projections is likely to reach £1.8 million by the time these proposals would begin to take effect.

"The Local Authority-maintained middle school has accrued smaller but significant budgetary overspends in recent years.

"The overspend at Wadham and the middle school results from the small number of pupils living in the area.

"It is a consequence of the assumptions underpinning the National Funding Formula for schools under which a school’s funding is determined largely by the number of pupils on roll.

"School viability for secondary-aged pupils is determined not only by class size but by subjects offered. As pupil numbers decline, the available resources become insufficient to fund discrete teachers for curriculum subjects.

"In small secondary schools, the increased subject range in Years 10 and 11 can be subsidised by Years 7, 8 and 9. This option is not open to upper schools which begin at Year 9."

The proposals include five main features.

1) Crewkerne: Wadham School would change from an upper school with 460 pupils to a secondary school with an estimated 780 pupils

2) Ilminster: Swanmead Community School (middle school) and Greenfylde Church of England First School would amalgamate into a split site primary school. Should approved housing development progress in the town, S106 investment would be used to part fund a new single site school bringing these two sites together. In order to achieve this amalgamation, one school would be closed and pupil numbers would be expanded in the other school. However, the intent would be that this would be a wholly new school with a new name and staffing structure, not the continuation of one school and the closing of the other. The new school would be a Church of England primary.

3) Villages near Crewkerne: Merriott First School and Haselbury Plucknett Church of England First School would become primary schools. Hinton St. George Church of England Primary School would not be part of a structure change as it is already moved to becoming a primary school but it would be considered as part of any changes to ensure all schools receive a sustainable proportion of the total pupil cohort. Misterton Church of England First School is federated with Ashlands in Crewkerne (see below).

4) Crewkerne and Misterton: Ashlands and St Bartholomew's Church of England First Schools and Maiden Beech Academy (middle school) would form three primary schools. Misterton is a very small school and is located only 1.2 miles from St Bart's. Though the federation has invested in condition improvements since the assessment, it was the only school in the area rated Red/Amber for building condition in the FfS review. At present, there are not enough pupils in the area to keep the Misterton site in use and so this school would close at the end of the 2021/22 academic year.

This means the school would remain open for two years, during which time all pupils would be supported to choose and plan for transition to another local school. In the consultation we would seek views about the best way to keep the building in operation, either for some other educational purpose or for community use.

5) Subject to statutory notices and future decisions by the Council, the proposed implementation of these changes would commence starting September 2022. We will work with schools and local communities to develop a transition plan that ensures quality of education is not adversely affected, every school has a manageable number of pupils in each year of transition, and schools are adequately funded through the transition period and beyond.

The First Schools currently operate from reception to Year 4. Middle schools serve children from Year 5 to Year 8, and Upper Schools provide from Year 9 up to sixth form - with Wadham School also having a sixth form.

The new system will see primary schools serving children from reception up to Year 6, with secondary schools operating from Year 7 up to sixth form.