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Saturday, 01 November 2014

Thwaites school proposes a broader age range

PLANS have been submitted to extend the age range of pupils at a school.

Thwaites Primary School, three-and-a-half miles from Millom, has proposed broadening its age range to accept children as young as three as there is no existing provision for childcare in the area. Parents with pre-school aged children have to make a seven-mile round trip to either Broughton or Millom.

Members of Cumbria County Council’s local committee for Copeland will consider a report at their meeting on Friday before the council’s cabinet makes a decision later in the year.

A report, prepared for councillors by Julia Morrison, corporate director for children’s services, says no extra jobs would be created provisionally, but the move could help the school’s financial stability.

She wrote: “School budgets are largely based on pupil numbers.

“The proposal would be likely to improve the revenue budget through the increased number of children attending the school.”

Ruth Cullen, chairwoman of the school governors, said: “We believe it’s a way forward for our school, mainly because there is a need for it. With us being so rural, there are no other facilities around us.

“With parents working longer hours, and especially for parents with children who have younger siblings, it can be difficult. We have surveyed the parents and there seems to be a great need for it.

“We feel we’ve got some support, but obviously, we have to finish the consultation period before we can go ahead with anything.”

The nursery would be inside the existing building and Mrs Cullen said the school already has staff who are trained to work with younger children. In the financial year 2011 to 2012 the school had a deficit of £6,774 – two per cent of its annual budget. But a three-year budget shows if the school had a nursery the deficit could be recovered by the financial year 2013 to 2014.

Initially there would be four places created but could expand as there is expected to be a significant increase in the number of children under three in Millom and the surrounding area by 2015.

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