High hopes at threatened school

OPTIMISM remains high at the home of Suffolk's smallest school as the deadline for a decision over its future draws ever closer.Despite having only 17 pupils, the close-knit community around Gazeley Primary School, near Newmarket, have said they are confident of convincing county councillors before a decision is made in March.

OPTIMISM remains high at the home of Suffolk's smallest school as the deadline for a decision over its future draws ever closer.

Despite having only 17 pupils, the close-knit community around Gazeley Primary School, near Newmarket, have said they are confident of convincing county councillors before a decision is made in March.

Tracie Crascall , a former pupil and now governor who has led the campaign, said they are not even contemplating losing their battle to save the school.

She said: “The whole focus of the campaign has been from a positive angle as we didn't want to think about anything negative.

“We have made tremendous progress and I am so proud of everyone involved.

“The whole school has been completely turned upside down and we really feel we are on the up.”

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An open day was held last month and Miss Crascall said she was pleased with the response from newcomers to the school.

She added: “The visitors were very enthusiastic and we had a brilliant day.

“I don't think people realised what Gazeley was like until they came and saw it and were really impressed, which can only be good for us.

“The disappointing them is that we still only have 17 pupils but we now have a lot of potential pupils for next year.

“From what I have seen, the school has been completely turned around and our new headteacher Anne O'Connell has been absolutely fantastic.

“We are all working together and pulling together and we hope that will be enough to convince the councillors.”

The school was threatened with closure in May after Ofsted inspectors uncovered serious weaknesses, but Gazeley was granted a reprieve in June when members of the council's executive committee voted in favour of giving officials another chance to reverse the its fortunes.

The campaign was not helped when the term started in September with a drop of eight pupils from the register – blamed by on the uncertainty hanging over the school's future.

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