Fear that ailing school could be shut by Easter

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Latest education news from the Suffolk Free Press, suffolkfreepress.co.uk, @sfpsudbury on Twitter

Members of a group set up to save a village primary school are to meet council officials today, amid fears the school could be closed within a matter of weeks.

Teachers, ex-governors and villagers – who are part of SaveME – have been campaigning on behalf of Monks Eleigh Primary School, which is in special measures following an Ofsted inspection last year.

This afternoon, group members will travel to Endeavour House in Ipswich to put questions to county councillors about failings at the school and ask why more has not been done to turn things around.

“We just want a few answers,” said Jenny Maynard, a member of SaveME, which was founded last month.

“The council keeps giving one angle and says it is doing its best to keep the school going, but that does not seem to be the reality.

“We have done so much and got so little back, sometimes we have been completely ignored.”

The school has gone from having more than 30 pupils last autumn to just nine.

Among the key issues that will be discussed today are the reasons for the perceived lack of support provided by the council and why a link-up with another larger school is not being considered.

The topic of whether the council has a pre-set agenda to close smaller schools – due to the Government’s new national funding formula, which aims to raise competition among schools by rewarding those that attract more pupils – will also be raised.

“We have had some pupils move to Lavenham Primary School, which is now full and they are in classes with 30 other children,” said Mrs Maynard.

“We do not know why there could not be some kind of federation with other schools to share facilities. Is it that the council wants to close the school to sell the land?”

Under the government formula, each school would receive a lump-sum and an amount related to its number of pupils, reducing the funding for smaller schools and harming their viability.

In a letter sent to parents, Maureen Eade, chairman of the school’s interim executive board, outlined some of the difficulties facing the school.

“Every effort has been made to secure the future of the school but the falling roles and lack of children registered for next year, plus the difficultly in recruiting teachers to a small school, have all proved disadvantages,” she said.

Mrs Maynard said there were signs the school was “winding up” and it could be closed as early as Easter.

A spokesman for Suffolk County Council said that after “exhaustive” efforts to find a solution to secure its future, the interim executive board had asked the authority to propose the closure of the school.

He added the proposal was subject to a public consultation and no final decision had been made.