Petition to save threatened King George VI Primary School, at Bircham Newton
17:14 16 March 2014
© Archant Norfolk 2014
Parents have launched a petition to save a threatened village school.
Education officials say King George VI Primary, at Great Bircham, is no longer viable because it only has 13 pupils. They want the children to go to neighbouring Docking Primary from Easter instead.
But Parent Claire Wright, who lives in the village, and other parents have launched the SOS - Save Our School - campaign.
“We’ve launched a petition to keep the school open and every person we’ve asked so far has signed it,” said Miss Wright.
“I’ve got four children, three have gone through there, they’ve all left Bircham School and gone into high sets, they’ve all done well, my youngest Evie has just started there.
“It’s a little family really. We knew numbers have been dropping over the last four years but it all seems very hush-hush, like we’re being kept in the dark.”
In a letter to parents Dawn Marie Bird, chair of governors, said: “Unfortunately the fall in pupil numbers has made it impossible to secure the school’s future financially.
“For this reason we have been looking at what we can do to ensure that our children continue to receive a good level of education in the future – this is clearly everyone’s absolute priority.
It is with heavy hearts that we have been forced to confront some difficult options.”
The letter says current staff and pupils will transfer to nearby Docking School after Easter. “Docking is a good local school, with sufficient space and facilities for all of the children,” it adds. “This news has come as a shock for all of us and will be very difficult for parents, children and staff but we feel this is the only option for our school.”
Mick Castle, Norfolk County Council’s cabinet member for education and schools, said: “I am most anxious to explore ways of delivering the very best education for pupils in rural locations. Very small schools are not always able to provide this and our policy is to look for federation of schools where appropriate and better use of existing schools where that is called for.
“We have been working with the governors at King George VI School to plan for the school’s short-term future. We believe that moving the children and staff to Docking Primary School, which is a good school, with sufficient space for the children, is the best way to ensure that the children can receive a good education after the school holidays. We will put in place free transport and help with the transitional arrangements to support both schools.”