Parents to seek assurances over village's tiny school after closure plan stopped

Parents of children at a south Shropshire primary school say they will be seeking assurances at a meeting on Monday.

Proposals to shut Newcastle CE Primary School have been stopped
Proposals to shut Newcastle CE Primary School have been stopped

The Blue Hills Federation said it had halted plans which would have seen the 22 pupils at Newcastle CE Primary School moved to one of its other schools, either Clunbury or St Mary’s at Bucknell.

They will be reviewing the situation again in September.

Farmer Barry Swancott, who has two children at the school, said: "We need to be clear that the governors are as committed as us to the future of the school.

"I do not know what to expect at the meeting on Monday - whether it will be bad tempered or constructive.

"An element of trust between the board and the parents has been broken and we want them to say they will fight to the bitter end to save the school. We are worried that come September we will see the same again. We need them to be clear about their intentions. It feels like it is currently a stay of execution."

Numbers of pupils at the tiny school sits at 22 and the parents want more to be done to bring more children in. They say they have a number of ideas they want to see adopted.

Parents met on Friday evening to suggest more ideas about bringing more pupils into the school.

"We are not celebrating at the moment, we are focused on saving the school," said Barry.

"The teachers at the school are a credit to themselves and the school," said Barry. "They provide an excellent education and I would say to any parent considering where to send their children that they should certainly consider Newcastle Primary School."

The federation’s statement said: “The governing body of The Blue Hills Federation has agreed unanimously to call a halt to the consultation process regarding the transfer of education provision from Newcastle CE Primary School to one of the other two sites in their federation of schools, namely Clunbury CE Primary School and St Mary’s CE Primary School in Bucknell.

“Newcastle CE Primary School has had low pupil numbers for several years.

“The number of children available in the catchment area has dropped significantly and the school has relied heavily on attracting children from outside the catchment area for a number of years.

“Demographics within the wider local area show a decreasing number of children.

“The governing body will now seek to fully engage with parents and the community in Newcastle over the next few months with a view to attracting additional pupils to the school for the start of the new academic year starting in September.

“Increasing pupil numbers above current forecast numbers is critical in ensuring that provision at the school is both educationally and financially sustainable.

“In making this decision, the governing body is quite clear that if the numbers don’t materialise then, while seeking to maintain a good level of education for the pupils on roll in September, they will review the position and consider the need to initiate a statutory consultation process regarding the future of the school.”

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