September 21 2014 Latest news:
Saturday, July 26, 2014
The public consultation process for the closure of a tiny village primary school has been branded a “complete shambles” by a local parliamentary candidate.
Monks Eleigh Primary School closed unofficially at Easter when the last students left after months of uncertainty following a poor Ofsted report.
The school went downhill after it was judged to be “inadequate” by inspectors last July and the number of students plummeted from 37 to just nine.
A statutory notice period over whether the school in Churchfield should close ended yesterday.
But Jane Basham, Labour’s parliamentary candidate for South Suffolk, described the way the school closure had been handled as a “catalogue of errors” by the local education authority (LEA), including a “woefully inaccessible” informal consultation.
Ms Basham, who has been involved with the SaveMEschool campaign, said: “There was no public meeting and no attempts by the council to reach out to people in Monks Eleigh and others who use the school or who understand rural communities.
“The council has failed to undertake any assessment of the impact that the loss of the school will have on the village.
“Local people, especially parents, felt kept deliberately at ‘arms length’ as the school was catapulted by the LEA, through no fault of its own, towards closure.”
A spokesman for the council said a number of responses had been received during the formal consultation and statutory notice periods, which were being analysed by officers ahead of a cabinet meeting on September 9.
He added: “We as an authority want to ensure Suffolk’s children are receiving a good or better education – this above all is our biggest priority.”