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“The passion here was evident”: Village school saved after plan hatched to boost income

PUBLISHED: 13:37 26 September 2018 | UPDATED: 13:43 26 September 2018

Parents celebrate with Consortium principal Andrew Aalders-Dunthorne and Winterton headteacher Martin White Picture: Liz Coates

Parents celebrate with Consortium principal Andrew Aalders-Dunthorne and Winterton headteacher Martin White Picture: Liz Coates

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A village school has been saved after a “creative” scheme was hatched to give it a dual role as a field study centre.

Matt Nichols wrote to some 42 academy trusts asking for help Picture: Liz CoatesMatt Nichols wrote to some 42 academy trusts asking for help Picture: Liz Coates

Cheers and tears rose from the playground at Winterton Primary School this morning as the spectre of closure was lifted.

Coming to the rescue was the Consortium Multi-Academy Trust (CMAT) who said the school’s stunning location close to wild-life rich dunes was one of the many reasons it decided to step in.

Launching its vision to parents and pupils in the school hall trust principal Andrew Aalders-Dunthorne said dual use for the site as a school and as a field study area was the way forward and a “creative” way of working up a business case.

He said: “The location was one of the hooks. We always respond when schools call for help but we came with the view that it did not look like a viable option. But when we got here and saw the school and were it was it got us thinking about what we could do.

Andrew Aalders-Dunthorne, principal of CMAT, addressing parents and children at Winterton Primary School Picture: Liz CoatesAndrew Aalders-Dunthorne, principal of CMAT, addressing parents and children at Winterton Primary School Picture: Liz Coates

“I was also struck by the strength of feeling.

“The passion here was evident.”

MORE: Councillor brands proposal to close village primary school ‘absolutely short-sighted’

Parents in the playground were moved to tears by the surprise announcement, much earlier than expected.

Angela Hudson-Jones, whose three children have all been pupils at Winterton at various times, said: “It is unreal.”

“It is such a surprise,” she added. “We did not expect to hear any news until October 12. My father came to this school, I came to this school and my three children have come to this school and have all done extremely well.

“It has been a bit of long haul. The community has been brilliant. Everyone in the village has contributed.”

The 42-year-old hailed the efforts of Fisherman’s Return pub manager Matt Nichols wrote to 42 academies across the country about Winterton’s plight.

Mr Nichols said CMAT were the first to come back to him and were passionate about rural schools. In two or three years time this will be the primary school.”

Addressing the children Mr Aalders-Dunthorne said there would be some changes but nothing for them to worry about. He told them about trips away they could look forward to as they joined a family of 11 other mostly coastal East Anglian Primary schools.

The school would be remodelled to create the residential field study centre for 30 children, which would supplement the school’s income.

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