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Academy trust confirms it will seek permission to close village primary school

St Andrew's Primary School, on South Pickenham Road in North Pickenham. Picture: Matthew Usher.

St Andrew's Primary School, on South Pickenham Road in North Pickenham. Picture: Matthew Usher.

© ARCHANT NORFOLK 2015

An academy trust has confirmed it will seek permission from the government to close a village primary school.

In April, the Diocese of Norwich Education and Academies Trust (DNEAT) launched a consultation with parents and carers at St Andrew’s Primary, in North Pickenham, to discuss the school’s future.

They said the school had seen falling pupil numbers over the last decade, with its roll currently having less than half of its intended pupils, a figure expected to drop further.

The consultation with parents ended last month, and the trust said it would decide whether to seek government permission to shut the school - which it has now confirmed it will do.

It said it was an “extremely difficult decision” to take.

A spokesperson said: “This decision was not made quickly or easily, and the trust looked at every possible avenue to keep this academy open.

“However, we know that there just aren’t enough children coming to this school now or in the future to make that possible. The school was built for 63 children, and it is less than half full at the moment.

“Pupil numbers have been declining for the last 10 years and the county council’s parental preference forecasts predict that the number of children will continue to decline.”

They said moving children to other local schools was the only way to ensure the best education for those involved.

“If the decision to close is confirmed by the Department of Education, the local authority admissions team will work closely with our appointed parent champion and the parents to find appropriate school places for the children,” they said.

“We fully understand that this will be unsettling and possibly upsetting time for parents and children and we want to provide as much support as we can.

“As we have done throughout the consultation process we will continue to communicate with parents and carers and our parent champion will continue to help advise and guide parents through the next stages of the process.”

A second consultation is ongoing to extend the catchment area of Swaffham Junior Academy, another DNEAT school, to encompass Pickenham.

Will you be affected by the closure? Let us know by emailing lauren.cope@archant.co.uk

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