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Suffolk Church of England schools not under threat of closure despite warning from CofE report

PUBLISHED: 16:50 10 May 2018 | UPDATED: 16:50 10 May 2018

The Diocese of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich has said Church of England schools in the county are not under threat of closure despite the recent CofE report. Picture: GREGG BROWN

The Diocese of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich has said Church of England schools in the county are not under threat of closure despite the recent CofE report. Picture: GREGG BROWN

Bosses at Church of England schools in Suffolk have said that none of the county’s small rural schools are under threat despite a report warning of potential closures.

The Church of England (CofE) education office published its Embracing Change: Rural and Small Schools report which warned that schools with small budgets and low pupil numbers were “difficult to justify” keeping open.

It warned that many small schools in rural villages did not have the funding to run anything more than a “skeleton staff” which meant the “odds are stacked against” recruiting and retaining teachers.

Schools with small numbers – those of around 100 pupils or fewer – in small villages are deemed to be most at risk.

But despite the bleak assessment, the Diocese of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich said no CofE schools in Suffolk were currently at risk.

John Howard, a diocese spokesman, said: “There are no current consultations on school closures affecting church schools in Suffolk.

“Funding for schools continues to be very challenging. We welcome the national report, which encourages small schools to work together.

“A number of small schools in Suffolk already work successfully in federations, under one headteacher and one governing body. Other schools are now in multi-academy trusts, including the diocesan MAT, which now has 16 schools.

“The diocese works closely with schools and the local authority to support small church schools, which play such an important part in the life of local communities.”

The CofE runs 1,351 schools nationally which have fewer than 110 pupils, making up around 70% of ‘very small’ schools in the country.

The report urged these smaller schools to work together to best serve their communities with a “re-imagined” approach needed.

A spokesman from the Department for Education said: “We recognise that smaller, more remote schools face different funding pressures which is why we have made an additional £26million available through the ‘sparsity funding factor’. This means that across England, rural schools will gain on average 3.9% through the formula, with those schools in the most remote locations gaining 5%.”

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