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Why a Cornish primary school is having to close

Why a Cornish primary school is having to close

Published by the Pirate FM News Team at 4:57pm 18th December 2017. (Updated at 9:34am 19th December 2017)

A village primary school on the Lizard is going to close for good.

St Martin-in-Meneage will shut on the 31st January 2018, because of falling pupil numbers.

The Department for Education's decision to terminate the school's funding agreement comes after closure was recommended by the trustees of the Keskowethyans Multi-Academy Trust.

The board came to the reluctant decision to recommend closure due to a sustained decrease in the number of children attending.

In fact, the number on roll at the school has fallen to single figures in this academic year.

Chair of the Trustees, Pam Miller, said: "Mindful of the long and proud history of the school, it was with heavy hearts that the board reached this decision. However, we are keen to reiterate that our primary concern was for the welfare and education of the pupils.

"We strongly believe that every child is entitled to a broad, dynamic and meaningful curriculum delivered in a holistic environment that enables the whole child to flourish. The very small cohorts at the school in recent years, which showed no sign of growth, have in our view rendered this goal unattainable. Learning in such small groups seriously impacts upon the educational experience of the children, and restricts their creative and social interactions.

"We feel real sadness in making this announcement. Our first priority now is to ensure that the children currently at St Martin are well cared for as they move into their new schools. We will be speaking to the parents of those affected, and will continue to assist with the transition arrangements in whatever way we can. We will do our utmost to ensure that their children continue to receive a good education to help them achieve the best possible outcomes, whether that is at another of our academy's schools or an alternative".

Regional Schools Commissioner for the South West, Lisa Mannall, wrote to West Cornwall MP Derek Thomas.

She said the decision had been made "to ensure that all pupils continue to have access to a high quality education in a school with a sustainable future".

The local community had been making efforts to try keep the school open, since directors of Keskowethyans Multi Academy Trust announced at the end of June that they planned to close it due to falling pupil numbers.

MP Derek Thomas argued that an opportunity should be created to work up plans to put the school on a secure footing and sent out a questionnaire to local residents canvassing their views on the school.

He said: "This is clearly not the news we wanted to hear and will be greeted with great sadness by many in the local community.

"St Martin's School has served families in the village and surrounding area for well over 130 years and was rated a 'Good' school by Ofsted only this year.

"This closure raises questions about how the Keskowethyans Multi-Academy Trust was set up six years ago and whether it has been the best thing for the children and their parents and the local communities.

"I have been promised further meetings with the Education Minister to discuss what can be learnt from this. We need to ensure that parents' concerns about their local schools can be heard much sooner".

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