Stutton Primary School ‘saved’ as it prepares to join ASSET Education

Stutton Primary School has been saved from closure. Picture: NEIL PERRY

Stutton Primary School has been saved from closure. Picture: NEIL PERRY - Credit: Archant

A Suffolk village primary school threatened with closure after student numbers fell to just 19 has been saved, it has been announced today.

Stutton CEVP Primary School in the Shotley Peninsula is set to join Ipswich-based multi-academy trust ASSET Education. The school has also been rated ‘good’ by Ofsted this week after an inspection.

The double celebration this week comes after the school was threatened with closure by Suffolk County Council (SCC) last year. The local authority became “very concerned” over the school’s “viability and vulnerability”, a letter to parents stated in June 2017. There were just 19 pupils at the time, down from 84 in 2006 and 52 in 2011. The school has capacity for 91. There have also been five headteachers since Christmas 2015.

But today, the school announced that governors have been working hard over the last year to find the best multi-academy trust to secure its status and drive improvements.

School leaders say they have been given the go-ahead to become an academy and join ASSET Education. The Department for Education has been contacted to confirm the details. SCC has also been contacted for comment.

Stutton Primary School. Picture: GREGG BROWN

Stutton Primary School. Picture: GREGG BROWN - Credit: Gregg Brown

A school statement said: “We are confident that the school will continue to go from strength to strength with the support of ASSET and their family of schools.”

Anne Clarke, interim headteacher, Stutton Primary School, told this newspaper in July 2017 that she was determined to secure the future of the school.

The school was previously rated ‘requires improvement’ in January 2016. But the school has been rated as ‘good’ overall and in every subcategory after a two-day inspection last month.

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The report is on the school’s website. It has not yet been published by Ofsted.

It states: “The headteacher has established stability following a lengthy period of turbulence and since her appointment has been instrumental in bringing about rapid school improvement.

“The headteacher and governors are proud of and committed to the school. They have a shared vision and strategic plan in order to secure the long-term future of the school.”

It adds: “The school has been led by a number of temporary headteachers over the past two years and the teaching staff have also changed. The new early years teacher started at the beginning of January. The headteacher has established stability following a lengthy period of turbulence, securing improvements in teaching and pupils’ behaviour.”

Consultation and public meeting

Before any final decisions are made, the school will consult with staff, parents, stakeholders, and the community. The consultation process has started and will end on Monday, March 26. An information meeting has been arranged for next Monday (February 26) at 7pm at the school.

Anne Clarke, interim headteacher, Stutton Primary School

This has been quite an amazing week for the school. We were absolutely thrilled at the many very positive statements in our Ofsted report. Our children were superb ambassadors for the school resulting in Ofsted recognising that the school ‘is an extremely happy place’. We are fortunate indeed to have so many dedicated people who have contributed to our school’s success. The exciting news that we will be joining ASSET Education is a fantastic end to the week and we look forward, with enthusiasm, to the next chapter of our unique village school.

Jo Hazlewood, chair of governors, Stutton Primary School

We are very excited about joining ASSET Education. As part of its due diligence, governors were particularly keen to preserve the unique ethos and character of Stutton Primary School and it has become clear that the trustees of ASSET share this vision. We are really looking forward to the future.

Clare Flintoff, chief executive, ASSET Education

We are delighted to welcome Stutton CEVCP School into the ASSET family of schools. We feel strongly that small village schools should be supported by trusts so that they can continue to serve the needs of their communities providing the very best educational opportunities for local children for years to come. We have been impressed by the commitment and enthusiasm of the school’s staff and governors and very much look forward to working with them.

David Wood, councillor for Shotley Peninsula

It is a great relief to hear that Stutton Primary School is no longer at risk of closure. The community has really pulled together to save our village school. It has been a difficult few months for all involved, and I can’t praise the efforts of parents, staff and governors enough. They have worked incredibly hard to come up with a solution.

I am very pleased that the school will now be able to join a successful multi-academy trust. The additional support and expertise will ensure that Stutton Primary School will flourish in the future.

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