County's smallest school may close

THE smallest school in Suffolk, which is expected to have only 13 pupils in September, could be closed.Suffolk County Council's executive will meet on Thursday to discuss the future of Peasenhall Primary School.

THE smallest school in Suffolk, which is expected to have only 13 pupils in September, could be closed.

Suffolk County Council's executive will meet on Thursday to discuss the future of Peasenhall Primary School.

Councillors are to be asked to agree to an informal consultation, with three options set out.

One is to close the school and send pupils to either Yoxford or Cookley and Walpole primary schools.


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Other options are to allow it to continue to operate as it is, or to make it part of a federation with a neighbouring school.

The school, which currently has 20 pupils on its roll, received a School Achievement award in 2000/2001, and is described as "well managed".

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Its last OFSTED inspection was in 1999, and inspectors found its standards in English, maths and science were higher than average and that pupils made good progress.

However, because of its size it exists on a "very tight budget". While eight children within the Peasenhall catchment currently attend Yoxford primary and three attend Cookley and Walpole primary, there are no out-of-catchment children at Peasenhall, councillors will be told.

Last night, Tony Lewis, portfolio holder for children and young people at Suffolk County Council, said: "The executive committee will be considering whether there should be a process of informal consultation on the future of Peasenhall Primary School.

"Because of the falling roll at the school, which is the smallest in Suffolk, and the fact that the current headteacher is moving to a new post in August, it is inevitable that we need to consider the future of the school in consultation with the local community.

"Our main concern is making sure we can provide a good quality education for the children at the school - there are a number of different options for the future of Peasenhall, and these would all be considered if the informal consultation goes ahead."

The report to councillors says pupils attending a small school like Peasenhall were generally thought to benefit from "a supportive family atmosphere" and socialised across the age groups much more than a larger school.

However, there were difficulties faced by small schools, including the difficulty of delivering elements of the national curriculum effectively with very small numbers and staff retention.

The possibility of a federation had been explored informally with neighbouring schools but currently no governing body feels able to pursue it, councillors will be told.

The aim of the consultation will be to seek the view of governors, parents, staff and neighbouring schools on the future of the school. It would be completed by July 31, and the results reported back to the executive committee on October 5 of this year.

At that point they will look at the three options. If they executive committee does decide it should close, there would be a six-week statutory consultation period to allow for responses.

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