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Small primary gets £1.3m ‘golden ticket’ to kit out new home

A small village primary that was handed the keys to a 400-capacity building has now been given more than £1 million to deck out its new home.

A free school was originally earmarked for the multi-million pound building in Wellingborough, but the government pulled the plug on the scheme after projections showed it would squeeze places in an area already hit by falling births.

Faced with having to mothball the site, North Northamptonshire councillors voted to hand it over this September to Wilby Primary School, which admits 13 children a year. It had 87 pupils on its books last November.

Last month they also greenlit proposals to spend £1.3 million to install internal and external furniture, fittings and equipment to fit out the site.

Jonathan Simons, the head of education at consultancy firm Public First, previously described the decision to move Wilby into the building as “a failure of strategic planning by the council (or its predecessor)”.

North Northamptonshire was created in 2022 when Northamptonshire was split up.

‘This compounds the initial error’

Simons said last month’s move “compounds the initial error”.

“Once again it raises the question of why the school is moving into this much larger building in the first place.”

Simons

Council papers show the cash will come from the basic needs grant, which “is a formulaically allocated DfE capital grant that supports the creation of suitable school places”.

Wilby’s new base was funded through developer contributions and is three miles from its present site.

Schools Week understands the cash will buy kitchen facilities, tables, chairs, whiteboards and cupboards.

The Department for Education approved plans for the primary to move out of local authority control and into the Peterborough Diocese Education Trust in February.

At May’s council meeting Jason Smithers, the authority’s leader, said the allocation would “benefit…the children of North Northamptonshire”.

Last year, Lynette Dudley, Wilby’s chair of governors, compared the move to winning “the golden ticket”.

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