County's smallest school to close
By Benedict O'ConnorCOUNCILLORS have agreed to close a county's smallest school which has just 16 pupils left on its roll.Suffolk County Council's executive committee decided yesterday to close Gazeley Primary School, near Newmarket, at the end of the school year.
By Benedict O'Connor
COUNCILLORS have agreed to close a county's smallest school which has just 16 pupils left on its roll.
Suffolk County Council's executive committee decided yesterday to close Gazeley Primary School, near Newmarket, at the end of the school year.
When it was announced last year that the school's future was in jeopardy due to falling standards and decreasing pupil numbers, Gazeley residents mounted a spirited campaign to save what was described as “the heart of the village”.
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However, school governors - including Tracie Crascall, one of the most vocal campaigners who organised a public meeting to save the school - decided last month the uncertainty surrounding it was unfair on both parents and pupils.
So they reluctantly agreed to recommend to the county council that the primary school should close.
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Ms Crascall, who was the third generation of her family to have attended the school, said: “It was what we had recommended. I did want the school to stay open, but I had to put my personal feelings aside and consider the children, who were the reason we were fighting to keep the school open.
“We had spoken to parents and understood that some would withdraw their children at Easter, which would have left something like five pupils at the school, and we decided for the benefit of the children not to carry on.”
A spokeswoman for Suffolk County Council said the school would officially close at the end of August.
She added that, after consultation with remaining parents, it had been decided that Gazeley would be included in the catchment area of the neighbouring village of Moulton.
The spokeswoman said that was the closest school that could accommodate the children and would have the benefit of maintaining the same links with middles and upper schools which the pupils already enjoyed.
Gazeley Primary School's future was first called into doubt last May when a report by the Office for Standards in Education identified “serious weaknesses” in the standard of education and management of the school.
The report noted teaching standards were unsatisfactory and meant “capable pupils were underachieving”, while procedures for monitoring teaching were unsatisfactory.
At the time the school had 25 pupils and the number has since gradually dwindled.
It was initially proposed that a federation could be formed where neighbouring schools could share a common headteacher and governing body, but, as class sizes fell, it was not felt that was a valid option.