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Final call for public objections to merger of Penarth nursery with Evenlode Primary

NURSERY school governors and politicians have made a final call for objections to an unpopular merger of a nursery in Penarth with a nearby school.

Bute Cottage Nursery is due to merge in September with the nearby Evenlode Primary School, although the nursery would remain in its current location.

Hundreds objected to the merger when Vale of Glamorgan council consulted on its plans, however the merger appears to be going ahead anyway.

The council has now issued a statutory notice, which it is legally required to, inviting any formal public objections before March 16.

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Richard Disley, chair of governors at Bute Cottage, said:

“The governors at Bute Cottage were disappointed that the proposal has been moved to a statutory notice, as there remain a number of questions unanswered. We’re frustrated that many issues raised by governors throughout the process remain unanswered.

“Public opinion is clearly against this proposal and it’s disappointing that councillors are choosing to ignore the views of parents, pupils and local residents. We would urge everybody who wishes to keep Bute Cottage in its current form to object to the proposal through the Vale council’s website.”

He added governors were concerned about the loss of a dedicated headteacher, funding for nursery pupils, and how long the nursery staff will be kept on for at the school.

Some parents are concerned that the merger would eventually lead the nursery to relocate onto a single site with Evenlode, although council bosses have claimed this won’t happen — or said if it would happen, then a separate feasibility study would first be needed.

Council bosses have previously defended the merger, saying “a consultation is not a referendum” and the move would mean more continuity and less disruption for pupils moving from nursery to primary school. Most nurseries in the Vale are now part of a primary school.

Local MS Andrew RT Davies said:

“It seems, so far, that the Vale council’s cabinet just hasn’t got the message when it comes to Bute Cottage. These proposals are clearly extremely unpopular with the people who are impacted by it.

“People in Penarth want to preserve Bute Cottage, not merge it with another school with different values. I urge Penarth residents to make their feelings known to this out-of-touch council cabinet.”

Responding to the concerns, the council said existing staff will be kept on and said it had consulted widely on its plans, adding the merger would mean a “smoother transition” for pupils.

A Vale of Glamorgan council spokesperson said:

“The proposals involve keeping Bute Cottage Nursery on its current site. There are no plans to relocate the school and existing teaching staff will remain in post.

“The amalgamation refers to the governance and leadership of the school. Such a move creates a more holistic educational journey for pupils, a smoother transition from nursery to primary provision and has proven successful in other school settings.

“The council has consulted widely on this matter and responded to points made by the community, including the Bute Cottage Nursery chair of governors, whether they were raised at one of two scrutiny meetings or during visits by council cabinet members and senior officers to the nursery itself.

“A copy of the consultation report is available on the council website, which sets out in detail the full extent of stakeholder engagement that has taken place.”

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