Infant schools hope joining academy trust will secure their futures

East Ruston Infant School after it achieved an "outstanding" Ofsted rating in 2011. Picture: Archant

East Ruston Infant School after it achieved an "outstanding" Ofsted rating in 2011. Picture: Archant - Credit: Colin Finch

The future of two schools will be secured if it joins a Norfolk academy trust, its leaders said today.

The Dragonfly Federation, which runs Stalham Infant and pre-school and East Ruston Infant and pre-school, is consulting with parents, governors and staff on joining the Right for Success Trust.

Senior leaders say the infant schools risk becoming 'increasingly isolated' if it doesn't make the move to convert them to academies.

In a document sent to parents and carers, the Dragonfly Federation's chair of governors Tricia Woodhouse said the schools were struggling with budget pressures while 'declining' pupil numbers at East Ruston were bringing the school's viability into question.

When the federation was formed in September 2018, parents were told that the decision to work with the Right for Success Trust, which runs eight schools in Norfolk, would give its schools a 'secure and strong' future.

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The document on the federation's plans, sent out last week, said the decision to consult on joining the trust had 'not been taken lightly'.

It said: 'We have a responsibility to ensure that our schools are in the strongest position to provide the best education for our children. This becomes ever more challenging against a backdrop of reductions in school budgets, a national shortage of school teachers and leaders and a continuing change in direction in the ways in which schools operate.

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'In addition, we are also very aware of the declining numbers at East Ruston Infant School. This brings into question both the financial sustainability of the school and the extent to which the highest standards of learning can be achieved.'

At the end of the last academic year there were around 90 pupils at Stalham Infant School and 40 at East Ruston Infant and School.

The consultation runs until Friday, February 15 and two briefing sessions will be held in each school during the consultation period. If the plans go ahead, the infant schools would convert to academies on August 1, 2019.

Don Evans, chief executive of Right for Success Trust, said the trust would look at 'what, if any, next steps might be taken' once the consultation ends.

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