Plans to close Suffolk village school are scrapped
- Credit: Archant
Plans to close a village school and send pupils to another academy have been dropped after campaigners vowed to fight proposals “to the end”.
Parents expressed shock after it emerged that Beck Row Primary Academy, in Beck Row, near Mildenhall, could shut with pupils sent to Great Heath Academy in Mildenhall as part of a government pilot scheme to turn educational sites into housing.
The proposed move came to light after documents were leaked following a presentation by LocatEd - the Department for Education's property company.
The Academy Transformation Trust - which runs both schools - was said to be in discussion with the Department for Education (DfE) over the plans.
John Smith, district councillor for Beck Row, said the community would "campaign to the end".
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As well as parents, governors and councillors, West Suffolk MP and health secretary Matt Hancock also said he "strongly opposed" the threatened closure of Beck Row Primary, which has around 200 pupils.
In a letter, Claire Pritchard, chief operating officer at the Academy Transformation Trust, said: "I wanted to follow up from recent communications and confirm that, after further meetings and conversations between Suffolk County Council, Academy Transformation Trust and LocatEd, the proposed project to merge Beck Row and Great Heath academies has been withdrawn.
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"We received some very valuable feedback from the community which fed into this consideration and we feel this is the sensible decision.
"We thank you for your input and look forward to continuing to work together to provide the very best education for our academy communities."
Sarah Mower, a parent governor at Beck Row Primary Academy, who launched a petition against the plans, said the support shown to the school was "overwhelming".
"We are relieved and very pleased that our opinions were taken into consideration and the right decision was made with the proposal being withdrawn," she said.
"The support shown to the school, pre-school and staff from the parents and local community has been overwhelming and a true testament to Beck Row as a village."
Suffolk County Council (SCC) said it was "very pleased" that the proposal had been withdrawn.
Gordon Jones, cabinet member for education at SCC, said; "Suffolk County Council does not support closing viable schools in developing communities. "Because of this, I am very pleased to hear that the trust has responded to concerns raised by the local community and confirmed that it is not intending to develop its proposal further."
A DfE spokesman said: "Discussions about Beck Row Academy and Great Heath Academy had been in the very early stages to assess the viability of combining the two schools on the Great Heath Academy site.
"However, this is no longer being considered, as jointly agreed by the DfE, LocatED, Suffolk County Council and Academy Transformation Trust."