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Consultation on merger of Great Yarmouth’s North Denes and Alderman Swindell Primary Schools hit by ‘speculation and misinformation’, councillor says

Alderman Swindell Primary School in Great Yarmouth. Picture: James Bass

Alderman Swindell Primary School in Great Yarmouth. Picture: James Bass

The consultation over a merger of two schools in Great Yarmouth has been hit by “speculation and misinformation”, a councillor has said.

Headteacher Debbie Whiting outside North Denes Primary School.

Picture: James Bass Headteacher Debbie Whiting outside North Denes Primary School. Picture: James Bass

Norfolk County Council has proposed merging Alderman Swindell and North Denes Primary Schools into a new building on the North Denes site.

The consultation - which closes on Friday, July 21 - has proved divisve, with some parents at Alderman Swindell, along with headteacher Alison Hopley, raising objections.

Stuart Dark, vice-chairman of the council’s children’s services committee, insisted the proposal was “not a done deal” and encouraged people living in north Yarmouth to have their say before the consultation closed.

Alison Hopley, headteacher at Alderman Swindell Primary School. Picture: James Alison Hopley, headteacher at Alderman Swindell Primary School. Picture: James

MORE: Parents say they will fight to stop closure of Alderman Swindell Primary School in Great Yarmouth

He said: “As is often the case, reactions have included emotion, speculation and misinformation. I would reassure everyone that our consultation has been fair and open and the decision on whether to proceed to the next stage rests with the director of children’s services.”

He said the changes could see the Alderman Swindell site turned into a school for children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND).

“Emotion is good,” he added, “and we understand concerns. It’s important to remember, though, that people have worried about a lack of places and poor facilities in the area.

“This is about investing, not taking anything away.”

The project would cost more than £7m, a sum which has been identified as more cost effective than the price tag for two expansions at the separate schools.

MORE: Proposal is best option against backdrop of budget pressures, says headteacher Debbie Whiting

While the scheme has gained the backing of Noth Denes headteacher Debbie Whiting, Mrs Hopley, who has led Alderman Swindell for almost 15 years, has been vocal about concerns.

She has said: “I just want the very best provision for this community and I do not know if that is what is going to happen. Yarmouth is often the poor relation.”

A public meeting was held at the school last week to discuss the plans, with some parents pledging to fight any merger.

To have your say, click here.

• Do you have an education story? Email lauren.cope@archant.co.uk

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