Eaton Primary School closes its swimming pool

Eaton Primary School. Headteacher Allan Lowe pictured at the side of the school's swimming pool.Pict

Eaton Primary School. Headteacher Allan Lowe pictured at the side of the school's swimming pool.Picture: ANTONY KELLY - Credit: Archant

A primary school has defended its decision to close its swimming pool, despite opposition from dozens of parents.

Eaton Primary School told parents it would need to spend at least £25,000 on essential maintenance on the pool and its building, while longer-term modernisation would cost £95,000 to £107,000, and it was keeping the pool closed 'until further notice'.

At the end of last term, 132 parents signed a letter to the school supporting the swimming pool.

Nicola Kaiser, who has two children at the school, said parents had made a number of positive suggestions, including a fundraising campaign by the PTA, and looking at how other schools have managed to maintain their pools.

She said: 'We have just been told it's frightfully expensive. We feel at the moment they are being quite unimaginative and they just don't want to do anything about it.

'The thing about swimming pools is that they are costly to run, but they are even more costly to start up again.

'We just feel swimming is such an important skill. It's a life-saving skill. It does not make sense to us that you could lose such an important resource which is there at the moment.'

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In 2015, the school joined the Evolution Academy Trust, whose chief executive, Tony Hull, questioned whether any fundraising campaign would be able to raise the money to cover the pool's ongoing costs over the long term.

He added that the school had not bid for any government funding to maintain the swimming pool, but it would be a low priority for the Department for Education, and its bid for money to repair the roof of the main school building had been unsuccessful.

In its September newsletter to parents, the school said Year 3 would swim at the Sportspark pool at the University of East Anglia up to the spring half term, and Year 4 after then.

It added: 'Additional provision for those junior pupils unable to swim the recommended 25m by the end of Key Stage 2 will be arranged as needed later in the year.'

Headteacher Allan Lowe said that travelling on a bus to the UEA, and using the facilities there, was good for pupils' socialisation.

He added: 'It's a question of priorities. What we have done as a school, as a trust, is make sure that the investment in capital goes into the direct educational experience of the children. We have done a lot of investment in classrooms, rebuilding, making sure the toilets are fit for purpose.

'[The pool] is not a priority for the school at the moment, sadly.

'You can't compare the experience they are getting at a top class facility to this.'

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