A REPORT on proposals to shut and merge a York primary school has revealed it has the highest number of surplus places in the city.

The Derwent Infant and Junior Schools Federation – which The Press revealed last month is set to formally close and merge with nearby Osbaldwick Primary School – is heavily undersubscribed, said City of York Council assistant education director Kevin Hall.

“The majority of parents who live in the schools’ catchment area select other schools as their first preference,” he said.

“The current level of surplus space at Derwent Infant and Junior Schools, when taken together, is the highest at any school in the city – 53 per cent.

Tang Hall Primary School, which is the neighbouring catchment school to the north, also has a high level of surplus places – 34 per cent.”

He said that across the city, the birth rate had risen and was expected to continue to rise for some years, and surplus spaces would gradually fill up.

The 540-home Derwenthorpe development was also expected to produce up to 130 additional primary pupils.

However, university expansion had led to some reduction in overall demand for primary places, as the supply of family housing had decreased and the proportion of student housing increased.

Reception numbers at Derwent were not predicted to begin rising significantly until 2016/17, and surplus space would contiinue to be an issue for the foreseeable future. Given funding pressures across the city, Derwent’s funding position could not be sustained.

He said: “The head teacher will retire at the end of the year and, given recent experience of recruiting primary head teachers in the city, it will be difficult to attract a field of exceptional candidates.”

The proposals are now set to go out to public consultation, with a view to opening an enlarged Osbaldwick School next September.

Parents of children at Derwent School told The Press last month they thought the school was “brilliant”.

They said they would only accept its closure as part of a merger scheme.