Two Barnsbury primary schools could merge because of falling school rolls.

Vittoria and Copenhagen primaries in Barnsbury could merge due to falling pupil numbers

By Julia Gregory, Local Democracy Reporter

Photo: AlanFord at English Wikipedia, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Islington council is consulting on its plans to merge Vittoria and Copenhagen primaries in Barnsbury and blames falling school rolls as both schools have seen drops in the number of children at reception.

This year there are just 30 children enrolled in the first year of both schools combined, down on 39 in the previous school year.

Overall 294 children are currently enrolled at both schools, with 137 at Copenhagen and 157 at Vittoria.

The council said one in five reception places are unfilled at its 46 primaries and agreed last month to cut the equivalent of three and a half entry forms, or 105 places.

There were 77 unfilled reception places out of 260 across the six Barnsbury primaries this September.

Two form entry Copenhagen in Treaty Street already works with the one form entry Vittoria primary in Half Moon Crescent as part of the Islington Futures Federation of four schools.

Both schools are rated good by the Ofsted school inspectors.

If the merger goes ahead the schools would use the Vittoria name but would be based at the Copenhagen school site.

The federation’s head teacherJohn Beighton said: “Falling pupil numbers has impacted on what each school can provide and deliver individually. Through these proposals we could combine the best of what each school offers to create an exceptional single school. ”

He added: “This builds on existing close partnerships between the schools, which includes shared staff, resources, professional development and joint trips and other educational experiences for children.”

Town hall bosses said primaries across Islington are affected by falling school rolls which they blame on lower birth rates, changes to EU migration, the impact of the pandemic and families moving out of London.

There has been a reduction of more than 300 pupils across all year groups last year – with 2,800 surplus places – 18% of the total and six Islington primaries have more than 30% unfilled places.

The decline in numbers means primary schools lose £5,430 per empty desk which hits their budget.

Islington school balances dropped from £11.7m in 2018/19 to £8.3m and are likely to fall ” significantly” according to the town hall, with ten schools already in deficit.

Michelline Safi Ngongo, the executive member for children, young people and Families, said: “Across London, schools are seeing a reduction in pupil numbers, which means some places are not filled – causing less funding for schools, and less money for salaries and other vital expenses.”

She said the proposed merger “would bring together the identities and strengths of both schools under one roof, while helping to secure the merged school’s financial future.”

The consultation will run for six weeks until December 16 and the exective will decide whether to go ahead with the merger at its meeting on Febuary 9.

A further four week consultation will follow if it decides to and the final decision would be made in May.

The consultation can be found here:

Copenhagen and Vittoria School | Islington Council

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