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Trust outlines plans to merge two schools with just 45 pupils

PUBLISHED: 09:46 09 October 2019 | UPDATED: 10:44 10 October 2019

Tivetshall School, which has 16 pupils, could be merged with Burston. Picture: Google

Tivetshall School, which has 16 pupils, could be merged with Burston. Picture: Google

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Parents and community leaders are being consulted on plans to merge small primary schools in two South Norfolk villages.

Sapientia Education Trust chief executive officer Jonathan Taylor. Picture: Nick DunmurSapientia Education Trust chief executive officer Jonathan Taylor. Picture: Nick Dunmur

Burston and Tivetshall Primary Schools, which are both part of the Sapientia Education Trust and already share an executive headteacher and governing body, could be amalgamated under the proposed changes.

With rural Norfolk characterised by the number of small schools, Burston and Tivetshall are amongst the smallest and in recent years numbers on roll at both schools have fallen. Tivetshall now has just 16 pupils while there are currently 29 names on the class register at Burston.

The Wymondham-based education trust said the proposed amalgamation would help ensure the ongoing viability of locally based education in the villages, which are five miles apart.

Burston Schooll, which has 29 pupils, could be merged with Tivetshall. Picture: Sonya DuncanBurston Schooll, which has 29 pupils, could be merged with Tivetshall. Picture: Sonya Duncan

Jonathan Taylor, the trust chief executive officer, said: "Sapientia Education Trust is committed to supporting and nurturing the qualities found within small schools and to providing the strategic leadership that enables pupils to flourish.

"To achieve this, it is vital to consider how small schools can be sustainable moving forwards, to provide the best possible education for all the children.

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"The proposal to amalgamate the two schools builds on the long-established links between the schools and would help to ensure future viability. In opening the consultation, we are very interested in hearing views from stakeholders and the wider community."

The proposed merger is the latest in a number of changes to address failing pupil numbers at smaller schools in South Norfolk.

Shelton with Hardwick Community Primary School could close on December 31 following a consultation by Norfolk County Council. Its partner school, Hempnall Primary, would be extended to accommodate the change.

The Sapientia Education Trust said in a statement about its plans: "There are many benefits to teaching and learning in small schools.

The children are known by all staff as individuals and can be provided with the support and challenge that is right for each young person. Small schools are committed to developing the whole child in an environment with high expectations and with a very clear ethos, built upon the knowledge of the individual.

"Many parents choose small schools specifically for these very reasons."

The public consultation into the proposed changes lasts until November 15, with public meetings at Tivetshall Primary School on October 9 (6pm) and at Burston Primary School on Thursday, October 10 (4pm).

Written responses can be submitted to: Catriona Mitchell at Sapientia Education Trust, Golf Links Road, Morley Saint Botolph, NR19 9SX.

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