The Big Local Survey - have done your yet?

As St Martins has 2 bids at the LJC  and its in St Martins it would be good to get people there.

Big Local survey has been delivered to all properties in Weston Rhyn, St Martin's and Gobowen they can be returned by post or village collection points. The closing date for return has been extended to 17th October 2011. If you have not completed your survey yet please do so .

Selattyn,Gobowen St Martins and Weston Rhyn Local Joint Committee is holdng their next meeting at St Martin's Centre on 18th October 2011 at 7pm. Agenda items include a presentation on Broadband Development and Local Youth Survey Feedback.



We, the Governors of Ifton Heath Primary School, wish to publicly state that we do not support the current proposal to close Ifton Heath Primary School.

 We therefore advise the public that we are beginning consultation to become an Academy School, thereby becoming independent of the Local Authority but retaining all the benefits of this primary school on its current site.

 There will be initial public meetings here at school at the start of the new term and we urge all interested parties to attend.

Public Meeting Wednesday 7th September 6.00pm to 7.00pm.

 Please write to the council to express your views on the proposal.


Parish Councils response to the Schools proposed Merger

Read the Draft Minutes of the Exrtaordiary Meeting of the Parish Council on the 27th July 2011.

Council recommend that Option 5a be adopted i.e. Do nothing, save £3.14 million in the expectation that Rhyn Park will recover......... to read the whole document click here



To: Keith Barrow                                                                                                                              27th July 2011

From: Julian Cattley

Cc: Cabinet Members

 Dear Mr Barrow

 I write following the experience of representing our school and children at the cabinet meeting 20th  July 2011.

 I would have thought given the extended consultation period granted by your cabinet and the fact that we were not yet in a statutory phase that any discussions , including the generous invitation to the floor would still remain balanced prior to a public vote being taken.

 It was with great disappointment that as soon as delegates sat down you were openly sharing personal views about the protest that our parents and children had every right to make. Had this been in isolation it would perhaps be considered as politeness to the young delegates on your part but you then continued to make reference to this throughout the meeting and counterpoint it with the praise lavished upon Rhyn Park.

 Let me again state that in no way am I stating or implying that the contribution of Rhyn Park students should be underplayed as they did themselves credit, I too excelled at Rhyn Park under the leadership of Janet Warwick so I too have had the best of times there.

 What was apparent throughout proceedings was insensitivity to our plight and a seeming disregard for the impact or toll this was taking. Coupled with your constant implied derision of our protest and elements of what we said it appeared that as a chair leading a body you were far from providing the appearance of a reasonable and balanced leadership of the meeting. You also seem to have misinterpreted the reference to our commitment in terms of both myself and the head fighting for the school. Your presumptions and implications we are somehow fighting for the building are somewhat ill conceived; when we use the word ‘school’ we consider it our children, our staff, our spirit, our ethos, our community, our learning environment and the joy and wonder we provide in educating our children. You would do very well to remember this in future and thank you for identifying this potential issue as an element that might be misinterpreted, we will be sure to clarify so no one else misunderstands in future public statements.

 If I were chairing a meeting where I was so frequently doing things to so belittle the injured party I would hope that one of my colleagues would call me to account, yours did not. Additionally it was very disappointing that a member of your cabinet walked out during the proceedings, given the gravitas of the decisions being made, I am sure that proceedings could have paused if absolutely necessary but for members to not even hear much of one party’s representations again seems very poor conduct. Let me be clear – I would have happily waited to be heard properly by all and would expect, not unreasonably, for that to be the case in a meeting. Please do not take this to be a personal criticism if perhaps one of your cabinet is unwell or suffering from some sort of medical issues; but better procedures should be in place so that members do not leave during such a formal occasion.

 Sadly this offence was not isolated in terms of our representations. It was no surprise that Rhyn Park support this proposal given the fact it is one of the very few that offer anything other than closure. The relief amongst your cabinet was palpable as they had something positive to cling on to. Does this really suggest this is the best way forward or does it simply seem so, given the amount of challenging decisions you have had to make. As one of your colleagues pointed out, your cabinet has the responsibility at present, success or failure; at present every school closed is a failure.

 This brings me to my last point that again belittled our communication and was deeply offensive as part of the proceedings and that was one of your colleagues’ comments that ‘at last someone is thinking of the children’. I imagine to all heads, governors, teachers, parents and in fact anyone in the room that is responsible for education this was a poorly chosen term that damns everyone’s efforts and for a good percentage in the room that is voluntary application as well. This same member also pointed out she was speaking to the silent majority, we have already proven we are not discussing a silent majority in our case. Despite final comments Rhyn Park is a good school little has been done to address the falling numbers on roll which are far more than simple population changes, Ifton again did the work discovering most mobile, high flyers choose to attend Lakelands or Marches.

 Overall I feel that the comments of both you and other cabinet members were belittling, and hold little in terms of respect or sensitivity for those schools you are executing. This is a very poor show given the importance of such discussions. Biased and irresponsible commentary during a meeting needs to be considered very carefully.

 I hope this at least gives you pause for thought, and please remember that when you are challenging governors, we have given a truly disproportionate amount of our time since these appalling proposals were made. We do this work for the children of our school, securing the best opportunities for them, with not a penny paid in recompense for our services. Many of us have even made contact with central government, a point which you seemed to hold great store in when questioning another local counsellor. It would I think be better for you give a wider note of appreciation to the cost in time let alone anything else you have brought on so many in education through these proposals and revel slightly less obviously in the few positive moves you have taken.

 Your college is right, you are responsible at present and this plan clearly shows that for whatever reason, Shropshire Council continues to fail to secure an appropriate fund for the continuation of education serving our varied communities and needs.  It is after the show on the 20th July and the many mistakes made by your officers over recent months that we must now consider moving to some form of independent status and removing ourselves from such poorly conceived and executed decision making. It was also interesting to hear the comment that Rhyn Park’s debt is ‘historical’ this perhaps alleviates some responsibility from the current acting head. Despite an effective sounding title it simply means a debt that was neither dealt with when it was created or reduced by consecutive governing decisions, again an indication of failure in both management and governance.

 In summary we have spent a great deal of time very carefully considering your proposal and we are not against change but in all actuality your officers’ reports and cabinet discussions show no evidence of effective change, no real evidence of added benefits and no guarantees can be given. It appears that Rhyn Park is being somewhat courted by your cabinet to potentially justify your vision policy when they in fact are the failing party in this situation with falling rolls and a substantial debt.

 Yours sincerely

 Julian Cattley


Why is it that Ifton Heath School does not want to Merge with Rhyn Park School at this moment in time?

Read On

Statement from the Governing Body of

Ifton Heath School

23rd June 2011

As governors of Ifton Heath school we remain committed to securing the best sustainable future for our learners. With a view to this we have worked tirelessly with both County and Rhyn Park to review the current proposal and a wider range of options.

 It is very clear from detailed discussion, consideration of feasibility and with reference to models such as Saltburn Learning Campus that an all through school requires substantial investment in terms of both time and money to establish appropriate inspirational accommodation as well as aligning governor and staff management.

 At this time, where despite working extensively to consider the situation and raising a legitimate collection of genuine concerns, we are advised that we have been heard. At the same time the response to our input has been limited and has not allowed for any progression in terms of consultation or decision making with all of our stakeholders.

 We have been encouraged to lead with positive thinking about the potential for such a project but we have to work within the parameters in which we have been set. Information in response to our queries and requirements has either been impossible to acquire or simply inadequate. We are unable to assemble any convincing argument to give up our school in favour of moving to a potentially limited development that does no favours to either party involved.

We have been encouraged to highlight the positive learning benefits that would occur in an all-through school environment and we are very aware of the potential of such collaboration. However the current proposal does not present significant advancement from the activities we already currently engage in, with great success.

 Specific elements that remain unsatisfactory are as follows:

 > As of 23rd June we have not received any plans despite asking for them from the first consultation, we were also denied access to direct contact with the architect.

 {Notably the Saltburn headteachers were very clear that their involvement at all stages of planning from concept to completion was critical for the process to work well and produce the desired outcome}

> We have yet to be convinced of viable plans to manage the budget of the schools and the serious issue of the debt at Rhyn Park has not changed.

 > The initial suggested project cost of £1.2 million suggests that there are insufficient funds to achieve the required outcome and despite occasional suggestions that more might be available when the issue is pressed no further commitment is forthcoming. It is not enough to require staff to deliver in tired or uninspiring accommodation; you need only refer to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs to identify this issue, as it is at the core of teaching theory and practice.

{Notably Saltburn identified that a key element of creating an outstanding learning space was the need for the inspiration and “wow” factor benefitting learners as much as staff and the wider community. Their building cost £16.5 million, not £1.2 million.}

 > Where we have requested information it has become clear that, other than learning how much would be the responsibility of the new governing body, there is no appetite for the council to take responsibility for securing any issues about finance, personnel or increase information about the potential build.

 {Example: If the original proposal would have been for Rhyn Park, as the school with spare capacity, to close County would have had to take on the debt and we could at least start with a clean slate. In this scenario moving Ifton Heath would also have been only one of a possible range of options available as solutions}

 > We are constantly assured that we have been listened to, but we are increasingly concerned that if this is the case then the response has been totally inadequate and rather than meeting any of the needs we have identified issues continue to be side-lined or fogged.

 > It is clear from our visit to Saltburn as well as other all through schools that another key commodity is time. It was through opportunity and time that good working relationships grew and systems developed. In this case we would be thrown fairly rapidly into at the very least an amalgamated governing body and from that there would be no return once the action had been taken.

 > Rhyn Park is under new leadership and needs to be given time to establish its reputation further to draw back the learners that are currently lost to Lakelands and Marches. Already 30% of our learners attend other secondary schools when they leave us with more than 60% of parents now considering this due to the destabilising effect of the current proposal. It should also be noted that another 7% commented they were only attending Rhyn Park because of no other option.

Overall the proposal, despite seeming to have some educational merits lacks even the initial commitment that we would expect from County to appear remotely feasible and with the lack of provision of any assurances to sate our concerns we cannot in all good conscience support something that needs to be done well and in the present climate appears ill conceived.

 {Notably the LA responsible for Saltburn are holding back other planned amalgamation projects due to funds being too tight. They have the experience of a shining beacon example with the Saltburn learning campus and do not want to make the mistake of trying to emulate this without adequate investment; surely a lesson should be taken from this?}

 The commitment that has been required to review such a radical and fundamental change in school organisation must be recognised. The commitment of staff, governors and the wider community has been great, including at present over 50 meetings. It is questionable how reasonable it is to put such groups under continued duress having to consider radical changes with so little support. This situation cannot continue indefinitely without having a detrimental effect on all those involved.

 Finally there have already been casualties in relation to these events with a number of children leaving our school not wishing to be part of the merger or simply concerned about the instability such a proposal causes. In a poll of our parents we have identified that around 60% are opposed to moving to the Rhyn park site with the majority of those threatening to take their children elsewhere. Copies of our findings are enclosed with this statement. This poll clearly demonstrates a threat to the teaching posts at Ifton, a threat which did not exist before February.

 In summary we were promised as part of this deferment that full support and information would be provided and yet we remain in a situation where we do not have enough clarification to make informed decisions. Other than a visit to an all through school that demonstrated how this project should be executed we have little to be convinced by, or to sell to others.

 Julian Cattley

Chair of Governors

This statement represents the official and agreed views of the governing body.



The Post Office will open in Stans on 18th April 2011


The latest from the Schools

May 17th - Ifton Heath and Rhyn Park Governor plus some other interested parties met at Ifton Heath School to further explore the next step in the proposed merger. Below are the questions that we would all like to have answers from Shropshire Council.

From: Representative groups from both Rhyn Park and Ifton Heath Schools

To: John Rowley

Subject:Confirmation of discussions between interested parties and outline of information required

 Following initial meetings with you and identifying that any requests to explore the current proposal and present options required the consideration of the working parties of more than just one school, we have today met and confirmed that we require information on certain key topics if we are to make informed representation to the cabinet.

It is clear that when our groups meet we still have almost nothing in terms of any information to judge either the potential, or feasibility of the proposed amalgamation, which continues to lead to speculation, debate and frustration.

Given that we agreed areas that it was necessary to explore and areas that potentially need to be explored I hereby present {in some cases again} the questions, issues and commissioned work that we would all, as governors, parents, staff, pupils and community members, like to see.


Our requirements / commitment

Action we would like confirmed

1)      Plans

- Ifton is to draw up a wish list outlining the needs of our school in any plans

- Commissioning of work with architects {as previous plans promised were not drawn up}

2)      Liaison with highways authority to fully explore route to school

- Review of what appears to be an unsafe route for increased travel of younger learners on a busy and potentially dangerous road

- Approved contact with appropriate departments to review situation

3)      Liaison with County supervisors about travel plans and safety

- Support to review the travel to school and access to the Rhyn Park site

- County advice with a hope of liaison with highways authority

4)      Outline of the suggested dates for any amalgamation to take place given postponement of decision

- Confirmation of the current dates for papers to be drawn up, and the suggested dates for the proposed merger to take place

- Does the proposal remain for 2013 site move?

5)      Identification of the nature of the potential all through school



- We are concerned that early confused messages leave us unclear: is this to be an amalgamation, co-location, federation or are these and other options on the table

- Clarity as to what kind of all through school we are discussing

6)      Considered financial advice from county advisor to working group of both governing bodies

Both groups of governors wish to explore the potential of the merged model of finance, and identify what specific issues may arise or need legal clarification before having to run with this

- We appreciate that there are no all-through models in Shropshire to refer to but there are many questions that are already arising and we need a commitment to exploring these with county expertise

7)      Frank discussion about resolution of the Rhyn Park debt

We wish to do all possible to deal with this situation and rather than discuss it in broad terms actually consider what we can and cannot do with this

- If we have been informed correctly, this may only be considered by schools forum. If this is the case then this meeting must take place rather than simply being discussed

8)      Further meetings need to be arranged with the whole steering group and John Rowley {with any other appropriate members of County in relation to requests above}

- We as all interested parties are continuing to both conduct and plan incredible amounts of work to explore this proposal and other potential options and wish to continue to do so with appropriate support and commitment

- All future meetings should involve representation from both Ifton and Rhyn Park to ensure clarity and minimise potential variance in information, discussion and ensure that all parties can make well informed decisions

 We would like to make it very clear that given that much of what we ask for now has been the basis of our questions and discussions from the very beginning of the consultation process,  there is no doubt that if we are to move forward in any way there needs to be a positive response to our well-considered and reasonable requests.  We are very hopeful that in the last few days already some action is being taken in responding to our concerns and we look forward to discussing further with you the options we now face in relation to the future of education in the St Martins area.

 Many thanks for your attention and the working groups from both schools look forward to arranging a meeting with you in the next few days to further explore these issues.

 Many thanks for your attention

 Julian Cattley

 Chair of Governors

Ifton Heath Primary

{On behalf of the meeting of working groups 17th May 2011}

Suggestions from informal meeting of some governors of

Rhyn Park School and Ifton Heath Primary School

April 7th 2011

The governors present from both schools agreed that a greater period of time for reflection is necessary if we are to establish an educational vision for the St Martin’s area.

 Their view is that collective meetings including full and appropriate representation and support from County will be the only way to fully explore the development and execution of any appropriate proposals. It has been made clear that the current proposal is wholly unacceptable to Ifton Heath. Therefore, alternative proposals have to be forthcoming.

 To move forward, we need to involve other local primary schools and to explore how the Rhyn Park site can be made viable.

We recognise that County has provided a range of detailed information about where schools stand in relation to this consultation.  We also recognise that, due to there only being a singular formal proposal, this has precluded wider discussion with County Officers about other viable alternatives.  We welcome the opportunity to have more open, collective discussions to forge an educational model that will work for the future of St Martin’s.


Ifton Heath Primary School

 At the Extraordinary Governors’ Meeting held on March 31st 2011, Governors discussed whether:

 1. The Governing Body of Ifton Heath Primary School should support the principle of establishing a federated Governing Body with Rhyn Park School and Performing Arts College in September 2011, with a view to moving towards co-located all through provision on the Rhyn Park site. 

 2. The Governing Body should support the principle of inviting any other interested primary school partners to consider joining in a federated arrangement with the all through school.

 The motions were unanimously rejected for the following reasons:

  1. That as Governors of Ifton Heath Primary School and acting in the best interests of the pupils, the federation of the Governing Bodies would no longer allow us to focus solely on the best interests of our own pupils, and in the current situation we do not see any advantage in federation.
  1. That our existing school’s position in relation to the learning environment, the facilities and  its financial position is such that there is no advantage to be seen in the proposals currently available. Any new arrangements would need to provide better facilities for all.

 Factors which have influenced the Governors’ decisions included:

 -       The financial situation: both the capital position for the works required and, as we understand it, the question of Rhyn Park School’s revenue deficit.

-       The timescales proposed.

-       The uncertainty with regard to the leadership of Rhyn Park School as we understand it to be.

-       Our comprehensive consultation with our parents, our staff and the community at large shows no support for the current proposal.

 Governors stressed, however, that they remain committed to exploring with others the best sustainable educational provision in the St Martins area. Governors remain committed to work with Rhyn Park School, the Council and other interested parties to achieve this end.


For original Proposal by Shropshire Council and the response click here

Shropshire Councils Proposal to change the Educational Facilities in St Martins

To create an all-through (3-16) school by combining Ifton Heath and Rhyn Park schools on the Rhyn Park school site, along with the associated community facilities in the St Marins area and surrounding settlements  and to provide a vibrant new learing environment for pupils of Ifton Heath.

Ifton Heath School  

some Q&A's from the Governor of Ifton Heath School. Please Click Here

March 16th            Ifton Heath Primary School

 Governing Body Strategy Statement

 March 15th 2011

 The Governors are committed to exploring the best sustainable primary educational provision in the St Martin’s area.

 The Governors of Ifton Heath Primary School are unanimous in the view that they do not accept the current Shropshire Council proposal and timescale as outlined at this time.

 They do, however, wish to:

1.  Have more opportunity to give greater consideration to the proposal, for example:

 -       safety

-       access

-       job security

-       finance

-       governance

-       buildings

-       sustainability

              -       thus creating a school at least as good as the one we already have

2.  They wish to consider all other alternative proposals.

3.  They have arrived at the view that they would wish to see proper consideration given to the wider educational provision for the area.

Governors all agreed that the above be formally adopted as a statement of their view at the date of the meeting.

 Proposed: P. Jandrell                                          Seconded: G. Smith

 Governors discussed how their view be transmitted to the interested parties.

RHYN PARK School         

Resolution Passed by Rhyn Park School and Performing Arts College Governing Body Meeting 16th March 2011


Governors remain committed to the principle of developing all through provision on

the Rhyn Park site as the best and most sustainable way to secure the greatest

educational and community benefit for St Martins, Gobowen, Weston Rhyn and the

surrounding area.


To this end:

1. We urge the Shropshire Council to proceed with the feasibility study without

further delay so that governors, parents and members of the wider community

can see more concrete plans as quickly as possible;


2. We urge the Shropshire Council to improve the way in which it communicates

with parents, staff, governors and the wider community so that all stakeholders

have the best possible information on which to base their decisions;


3. We further urge the Shropshire Council to respect all stakeholders and treat

them with appropriate courtesy;


4. We will begin a programme of visiting other all through schools in order to

identify both best practice and pitfalls to be avoided; and


5. We will seek technical advice on the best way to change the membership of our

governing body so that it includes a balance of representatives from Ifton

Heath and Rhyn Park, as well as community representatives from Weston Rhyn,

Gobowen and the surrounding area in order to ensure that if and when we

reach the point when staffing plans need to be drawn up, this takes place in a

fair and transparent way.


However, given the lack of detailed plans at this stage, and, in the light of our

commitment to not implementing any change until we are convinced it could be done

in the best possible way, we recommend to the Council that the co-location should

take place in September 2013 rather than 2012. This would allow formal consultation

to take place on the basis of fuller plans.