More than 100 villagers gathered to voice their concerns over the potential closure of All Saints Primary School at a packed meeting last night (Wednesday).
As reported by Isle of Wight Radio, the Isle of Wight Council has selected All Saints as its preferred option for closure as it looks at surplus school places in the West Wight.
Residents came together at the school yesterday evening to hear from council officers from Hampshire, including Martin Goff (Head of Information, Transport and Admissions), Richard Vaughan (Deputy Head of Strategic development) and Natalie Smith (School Improvement Manager).
Carly Wyre-Nock listed a number of concerns on behalf of the parent body and demanded that the council relook at the premise of their recommendations:
“THIS IS A DESIGNATED RURAL SCHOOL AND THAT HAS IMPLICATIONS… WE ARE NOT A FAILING SCHOOL, WE ARE AN IMPROVING SCHOOL! WE DON’T THINK IT IS FAIR THAT ONE PERSON IS MAKING THIS DECISION, AND WE FEEL WE ARE BEING PICKED ON AS A SCHOOL. THIS PROCESS IS NOT FAIR AND IT HASN’T BEEN DONE FAIRLY.”
Parent of four, Rachel Dunleavey, said that the closure of the school would force all families in Freshwater to walk or drive to any school with free places, adding to traffic congestion in surrounding roads and villages. She said there are concerns for the safety of young children.
Other comments from the floor included strongly worded support for the school and its teachers and how pupils are showing further improvement.
Governor Dr Catherine Powell added:
“This site is fabulous – it is close to all the public amenities and where children and families live, 95% of whom walk, scoot and cycle to school.”
Speaking to Isle of Wight Radio previously, Cabinet member for Children’s Services, Education and Skills, Councillor Paul Brading, has insisted that he will consider all viable alternative options before a final decision is made.
The next group meeting with officers will be at St Saviour’s School in Totland on 1 April between 6pm and 8pm.
Councillors will discuss the consultation at tonight’s Cabinet meeting to be held at West Wight Sports and Community Centre from 5pm. Parents and residents will gather outside at around 4pm.
The consultation can be commented on, here.