Last chance for axe threatened school

A RURAL school threatened with closure is being given a last chance to turn around its management to secure its long-term future.Suffolk county councillors yesterday agreed to delay a decision on the future of Gazeley Primary School to develop a plan that could see it federate with one or more neighbouring primary schools.

A RURAL school threatened with closure is being given a last chance to turn around its management to secure its long-term future.

Suffolk county councillors yesterday agreed to delay a decision on the future of Gazeley Primary School to develop a plan that could see it federate with one or more neighbouring primary schools.

Parents packed a meeting of the council's executive committee, where it was feared members might opt to close the school after an Ofsted inspection found "serious weaknesses" within its teaching and management.

But councillors decided to defer the decision, and a report on the school's progress will now be discussed in the spring when the long-term future of the school will be considered.


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Tracie Crascall, a former pupil who is leading the campaign to keep the school open said: "We are pleased they are not closing straight away and are giving us time to work out our problems.

"Obviously we would have liked to have the decision to support us all the way, but the fact that they are showing support now is good.

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"My fears are that if they keep delaying it, then parents will pull their children out anyway as if they enrol them in September and the school closes in 2004, it's unsettling for the children."

The committee considered the results of consultation with parents, staff and other stakeholders on ideas for the future of the school.

A decision to federate Gazeley with nearby primary schools means the 25 pupils would continue to be educated at Gazeley, but would have access to the facilities and teaching at those linked schools.

Further consultation will now take place with parents and governors to decide the best way forward for federation.

Tony Lewis, executive committee member, said: "The decision on the future of Gazeley Primary was a difficult one as we had to weigh up the best interests of the pupils with the strong feelings of local people.

"This option allows us to keep the school open and put a framework in place for the school to improve.

"The possible federation of Gazeley would allow pupils to be educated in their home village but have access to far greater resources and the chance to interact and learn with a larger group of children."

Parent Wendy Pink, whose nine-year-old daughter Harriet attends the school, said: "I think there is something special about small schools. Children get more attention and much better opportunities. This is giving Gazeley an opportunity to improve."

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