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Primary school saved from closure

PUBLISHED: 12:11 09 December 2019 | UPDATED: 11:24 10 December 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

A tiny south Norfolk primary school which faced closure in a mooted merger has been saved.

Plans to merge Tivetshall Primary School with Burston Primary School were revealed by their sponsor, the Sapientia Education Trust (SET), in October.

With pupil numbers at both schools declining the trust said the merger - which would have seen the Tivetshall school closed and pupils moved to Burston or further afield - was the best way to ensure school provision in the area for the future.

However, the trust has abandoned the plans after a public consultation revealed a fierce desire to keep both schools open.

The schools, which already share an executive headteacher and a governing body, are both at less than 50pc capacity with 16 pupils on the roll at Tivetshall and 29 at Burston.

The SET said it would be keeping both schools open for the time being to give pupil numbers a chance to recover.

Jonathan Taylor, SET chief executive, said there had been a net gain of seven pupils across both schools since October thanks to "'word of mouth' parental support".

"It is evident that there is very strong support for both schools, with parents expressing their strong satisfaction with the education provided," he said.

"We are committed to supporting parental choice, which includes supporting small schools in rural areas.

"Whilst we obviously have to work within constraints, as a local trust we fully understand the value that schools play in rural communities."

Welcoming the decision, Tivetshall Primary School parent John Tully said: "The consultation process generated a big, positive response from parents and residents of the village.

"Collectively, we realised what we would miss if the school closed - it provided a wake-up call for the community.

"Many people turned out for the meetings or wrote to express their views and to offer help. We now need to tap into that energy, demonstrated by the community's response, and support the headteacher in attracting more pupils to our fabulous school.

"We are also grateful to the Sapientia Education Trust for the manner in which it conducted the consultation and for making its decision to support the school going forwards."

The parent group also expressed thanks to Norfolk County Council for its support.

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