March 11 2014 Latest news:
By MARK BOGGIS
Wednesday, January 1, 2014
A Lowestoft school’s bid to change its status and forge closer links with the Church has been blocked.
In October, it was reported Dell Primary School proposed to become the first Church of England voluntary aided primary school in the Lowestoft area from January 1.
But this week it emerged that, just days before the school was seemingly set to formally adopt its new status, Suffolk County Council rejected the application made by its governors.
A council spokesman said: “While there is no objection in principle to the school changing status from community to voluntary aided, in this case the demand from the community for voluntary aided schools places has not been demonstrated. Therefore, the decision is to refuse the proposed conversion at this time.
“Should the governors and diocese wish to bring forward proposals again after showing there is demand for voluntary aided school places in the community, we will of course consider the proposal again.
“The diocese does have the ability to refer the council’s decision to the schools adjudicator if it wishes to.”
In proposing the change, governors at Dell Primary said the move would benefit pupils, parents and the school.
As well as a new name and logo, governors at the school would have assumed greater control over its management, with a closer involvement from the Diocese of Norwich.
But the proposal drew some criticism from parents, who were concerned that it might lead to the school changing its pupil admissions criteria.
The National Secular Society also sent a letter to the county council, calling on it to “reject the change of status” following concerns raised by some parents.
Stephen Evans, the society’s campaigns manager, said: “We’re pleased this proposal has been rejected. Converting Dell Primary into a faith school would clearly serve the needs of the Church rather than local families and the wider community.
“The overwhelming majority of parents want good local schools with high academic standards, not faith schools. Where faith schools are proposed it is vital that the local community are properly informed about the implications, in terms of ethos, admissions and employment.”
Dell Primary was established in 1908 and caters for more than 400 pupils aged from five to 11.
A spokesman for the Diocese of Norwich, said: “The governing body and the Diocese of Norwich are disappointed at the current decision by Suffolk County Council. The diocese will certainly offer to support the governors in reviewing the situation in the New Year.”