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‘Cold-eyed and unsentimental’ approach needed over Alderman Swindell School, in Great Yarmouth, says council boss

Alderman Swindell Primary School in Great Yarmouth.
Beresford Road entrance.
September 2015.

Picture: James Bass

Alderman Swindell Primary School in Great Yarmouth. Beresford Road entrance. September 2015. Picture: James Bass

A “cold-eyed and unsentimental” approach has to be taken over proposals to close a Great Yarmouth school, according to Norfolk’s children’s services director.

The county council’s proposals to shut Alderman Swindell School in north Yarmouth and to merge it with nearby North Denes Primary School are being strongly opposed by many parents.

Some of them attended a meeting of the county council’s children’s services committee and asked questions about the process and why the council was so keen on the change.

Matt Dunkley, interim director of children’s services, said he sympathised with the community’s concerns at the loss of a school they are attached to.

But, he said a number of factors needed to be considered - including recent Ofsted inspections and the opportunity to pool funding allocations for improvements to both buildings to build a new £7m primary school building on the North Denes site.

Mr Dunkley said: “It’s always extremely difficult if you are talking about closing or merging schools, because individuals who work in them and communities with attachments to them find that worrying and upsetting.

“Clearly, in the case of Alderman Swindell, a number of staff, parents and people with a history and commitment to the school have expressed very strongly that they don’t want it to go ahead and want the existing structure to remain.

“But we have to take a cold-eyed and unsentimental look at the opportunity which has been presented to us, when we would be able to invest a significant amount in education provision.”

In response to a question tabled by Labour’s Mike Smith-Clare, Yarmouth Nelson and Southtown county councillor, the council said selling the Alderman Seinfeld site for housing was “not the county council’s preferred option” and that the possibility of using the site to educate children with social, emotional and mental health needs was being explored.

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