Small primary school faces closure

A TINY village school with a roll of just 14 children is facing closure in a year's time.Governors and parents are still hoping that Peasenhall Primary School can be brought under the wing of another local school as part of a federation – but so far a willing partner has not been found.

By Sarah Chambers

A TINY village school with a roll of just 14 children is facing closure in a year's time.

Governors and parents are still hoping that Peasenhall Primary School can be brought under the wing of another local school as part of a federation – but so far a willing partner has not been found.

Talks are likely to continue to see whether a federation partner can be found by February 2005, when Suffolk county councillors meet again to discuss the school's future.


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The council's executive committee will be asked to consider a report on October 5, recommending the school's closure "in principle" with effect from August 31, 2005.

However, in response to feeling in the community, the committee is also being recommended to agree a further period of time for the federation option to be explored more fully.

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Federation would allow pupils to be educated on the Peasenhall site while sharing facilities with a neighbouring school.

Consultation has been carried out among villagers, and 26 consultation forms returned to the county council.

Of these, 11 wanted no change, 12 wanted a federation with another school, and three wanted the school to close with pupils added to the Yoxford catchment.

The county also received 58 locally-produced forms calling for the school to remain open.

Tony Lewis, the county council's portfolio holder for children and young people said yesterday: "We have carried out this consultation as we want to seriously consider all the options for Peasenhall Primary School and to give people the chance to give us their views.

"We have listened to their opinions and will be looking further at the idea of federation before a final decision is reached on the future of the school."

David Thornton, the county's acting director of learning, said having "just a handful" of pupils presented "some very difficult challenges" in guaranteeing high quality education for all pupils.

"We regret that it may be necessary to close the school but we have the best interests of the pupils at heart," he said.

Sarah Gallagher, chairman of governors at the school, said: "I have yet to see the report produced by the LEA which members of Suffolk County Council's executive committee will be considering on October 5.

"Sadly, the county council briefed the Press before governors of the schools have been informed of the key elements of the report.

"I understand from a copy I have just received of the Press briefing that although the committee is being recommended to close the school in August 2005, the county council wishes to consider seriously the option of federation with another school.

"Parents in the community and school governors canvassed local opinion about the school during the period of informal consultation.

The results indicated strong support for the school, "which achieves good results and produces confident and competent pupils", she said.

"Educational arguments against small schools put forward by the LEA are not borne out by Peasenhall Primary School's performance. Governors and the community remain committed to our village primary school."

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