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Village primary school at risk of closure in trust's merger plan

PUBLISHED: 06:00 02 November 2019 | UPDATED: 11:42 02 November 2019

Parents protesting the closure of Tivetshall Primary School, which could be shut in a merger with Burston Primary. Picture: Paul Playford

Parents protesting the closure of Tivetshall Primary School, which could be shut in a merger with Burston Primary. Picture: Paul Playford

Paul Playford

Parents concerned about the proposed closure of their village primary school say it "should be given a chance".

The Sapientia Education Trust (SET) is consulting on plans to merge two of its schools, Tivetshall Primary and Burston Primary, which would result in the closure of the former building.

The trust said pupil numbers have fallen at both schools, which are now below 50pc capacity, and that a merger could ensure their futures.

But parents objecting to the proposals say Tivetshall Primary's closure would narrow choice for families seeking a small school environment for their children.

They also said the school's executive headteacher, who came into post in January, had not been given sufficient time to make improvements or bring up pupil numbers.

Paul Playford, who had five children attend the Tivetshall school, said: "We are hoping that people who have younger children there will voice their concerns.

"The school is an amazing building. It is not on a main road. It has a village green right opposite it and a playing field on lease and it is right near the village hall.

"When numbers go down like this, is it right to just shut it down, particularly with the rising population in south Norfolk?

"We feel passionately that this beautiful school should be given a chance."

A consultation document from SET said Burston and Tivetshall were among the smallest primary schools in Norfolk, but that falling pupils numbers had caused concerns about their viability.

At Tivetshall there are now just 16 pupils on roll (out of a capacity of 49) compared with 29 in 2017/18. Burston currently has 29 pupils out of a possible 70 - down sharply from 45 last year.

Jonathan Taylor, SET chief executive, said: "The proposal to amalgamate the two schools builds on the long-established links between the schools and would help to ensure future viability.

"We encourage parents and other stakeholders to respond to the consultation."

The public consultation closes on November 15. If the proposal is approved, the schools will be formally merged around May 2020.

South Norfolk recently lost another school, Shelton with Hardwick Community Primary, which did not reopen after the summer holiday this year.

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