Some Isle of Wight schools are "more than likely" to be identified for potential closure in the new year, but it will be a "fresh process" and all will be on "equal footing", the Isle of Wight Council has said.

The local authority is once again considering how to solve the problem of falling pupil numbers.

It comes months after it scrapped controversial plans, which named Cowes Primary, Wroxall Primary and St Mary's in Ryde as schools earmarked for possible closure.

At the time, headteachers slammed what they called a 'significant lack of professionalism' from County Hall.

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Cllr Jonathan Bacon, Cabinet member for children’s services, has now said that when discussions are reopened next year, the "whole school estate" will be under consideration.

In a statement, he said: "We have to address the issue of excess places... The issue affects the whole Island and is directly related to the key concern of raising educational standards on the Island."

An Isle of Wight Council report revealed 213 vacant reception places in 2022/23 - the equivalent of seven classes.

The number of primary school children will fall, from 9,200 in 2017 to around 8,000 by 2025, the report added.

It has already been announced that Chillerton and Rookley Primary School will shut its door for the final time at the end of next month (December).

Cllr Bacon said, in the new year, once the authority's new senior education management team is in place, "we will be going out to the public to provide information on the issues that must be addressed".

He added: "It will be a fresh process and all schools will go into it on an equal footing. This means that neither the three schools originally mentioned in the process earlier this year, nor indeed any school, is or will be identified at this stage as being proposed for closure."

Cllr Bacon said he hopes, by next Easter, County Hall will have reached "a fully informed view" as to what steps need to be taken.

He said: "If, as seems more than likely, some schools are identified for potential closure, the reasons for this must be clearly communicated and understood and there must be full support for all who stand to be affected, including staff, parents, children and local communities, including clear information about what options arise and how the impacts of any closure are to be addressed.

"All options and potential alternatives will be considered."

Any formal statutory process is likely to commence in the summer of 2024.

School closures, or other measures decided, would take effect from autumn 2025.