Suffolk's smallest school is closed

THE bell rang for the final time at Suffolk's smallest school yesterday when it permanently closed its doors three months ahead of schedule.With just 16 pupils left on the register, Suffolk County Council decided to close Gazeley Primary School, near Newmarket, despite a spirited campaign by local residents to save it.

THE bell rang for the final time at Suffolk's smallest school yesterday when it permanently closed its doors three months ahead of schedule.

With just 16 pupils left on the register, Suffolk County Council decided to close Gazeley Primary School, near Newmarket, despite a spirited campaign by local residents to save it.

The school was given until the end of the summer term in July, but yesterday afternoon there were tears of sadness as teachers and pupils bid a fond farewell to each other at the end of their last school day together.

The impromptu closure came about after the announcement that teacher Claire Harding would leave this week. Parents of children at the school decided that they did not want their children to change teacher twice so moved them out sooner than expected.


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Acting headteacher Anne O'Connell, who will be taking over at a school in Woolpit, said: “The parents felt it was in the best interest of their children to move them now so they could get used to their new schools in time for the September term.

“Some of the children have already been spending time at their new schools. The quickness of the move was unforeseen but I think it is better for them in the long run.”

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Nine pupils from Gazeley are transferring to Moulton Primary School, three to St Edmunds school in Bury St Edmunds, three to a school at RAF Lakenheath, and one to a Thetford school.

Mrs O'Connell said: “Everyone is very sad about the school closing but we knew that with so few pupils its future was never going to look good.

“It was very difficult for everyone involved when we began to go through the process of closing but we have gradually been packing our things and now the children and parents are happy to move.”

When the announcement was made last year that the school's future was in jeopardy due to falling standards and decreasing numbers, residents campaigned to save what they described as “the heart of the village”.

However, last month school governors decided the uncertainty surrounding it was unfair on parents and pupils, so they agreed to recommend to the county council the primary school should close.

The school building will remain open until its official closing date on August 31, and will be run on skeletal staff who will tie up the administration side of the shut-down.

During their last few days at school pupils enjoyed a trip to London to see the West End show Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, and an Easter activities day.

On Wednesday, pupils took part in a unique assembly to mark the closure, which was attended by more than 50 people including, governors, friends of the school and parents.

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