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Rocester schools set to hold merger talks

By UttoxeterPostandTimes.3522974.UttoxeterPostandTimes  |  Posted: February 07, 2014

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ROCESTER pupils could benefit from the ‘best education’ at one new and improved school following merger talks after it was revealed JCB could acquire a school site.

Ryecroft Middle School and Dove First School are in talks about merging into one purpose built school after their governing bodies agreed to work with Staffordshire County Council on the proposals.

It was revealed last month that the council had approached digger giant JCB about acquiring the Ryecroft site next to its World Headquarters in Rocester.

In the further development, governors at Dove First School have agreed in principle to joining the project.

The proposal is to create a new, single Church of England School, from reception to year eight, in Rocester by September 2016.

Council chiefs said this deal could see a brand new school built nearby, while at the same time supporting the manufacturer’s recently announced expansion plans that will create 2,500 new jobs in the county.

The council is still in discussions with JCB about the possibility of locating the proposed new school on land currently owned by the company on the outskirts of Rocester village, off Ashbourne Road.

The land under consideration is bordered by the B5030 to the west and Northfield Avenue to the east.

The two schools will now work with the council and Diocese of Lichfield to develop detailed proposals for new and improved education facilities in Rocester.

The council added that discussions about the land with JCB remain in the early stages.

Ben Adams, Staffordshire County Council’s cabinet member for learning and skills, said: “This is a once in a generation opportunity to invest in and improve education in East Staffordshire, at the same time as thousands of new jobs are being created locally by one of our major employers.

“I am really pleased that two schools have agreed to work with the county council and the diocese to take this forward.

“It is early days but there is the promise of brand new, purpose built facilities that will really enhance education for children in the area. It signals our determination to work with schools and all partners to raise standards in education across the whole of Staffordshire, as we create the right conditions for our economy to grow.”

The move has been welcomed by the head teachers from both schools as an exciting opportunity for Rocester pupils.

Sue Wade, head teacher at Dove First School, said: “When Ofsted inspectors last visited, they rated our school as good with outstanding features.

“We want to give our children the best education and be an all-round outstanding school, and the governing body and I believe that seizing this opportunity for new, improved facilities could help us reach that goal.

“The current school site is limited in terms of space in particular, so any move to a larger site with a greater outdoor offer would deliver immediate benefits.”

Steve Bardon, Ryecroft head teacher, said: “I’m really excited that our two schools could potentially benefit from these proposals, through new facilities and pooling all of our resources to give our children a great start in life.”

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