“It’s not economical for anyone to take it on” - Norfolk’s smallest school moves closer to closure

Brockdish School faces an uncertain future.

Brockdish School faces an uncertain future. - Credit: Eastern Daily Press © 2016

All avenues to save Norfolk's smallest primary school from closure have been exhausted, councillors have been told.

Brockdish Primary School, near Harleston, currently has just 12 pupils, and its numbers have not risen above 35 in the past decade.

Norfolk County Council has launched a consultation on proposals to close it at the end of the academic year, and councillors at this week'sJanuary 26 children's services committee heard about the school's predicament.

Council officer Judith Elliott-Hunter said 71pc of parents in the catchment area did not send their children there, and, so far, 11 people had responded to the consultation, with four agreeing with the proposed closure, and seven against.

She added: 'The children are today in two classes, and in the Key Stage 1 class there are four children, and they are all girls. While that might be an absolutely ideal class to teach, it's possibly not the best educational position for those little girls who don't get the chance to interact.'

An Ofsted report published in 2014 said the school required improvement, but Mrs Elliott-Hunter said it had worked 'very hard' to improve, but, because of low pupil numbers, it was hard to meet all the requirements of the national curriculum.

She said the school had not had a substantive leader since the previous head resigned last year, and the current arrangement, which sees the head of Alburgh with Denton Primary spend one day a week at Brockdish, was not sustainable.

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She said: 'We have looked at all the possibilities, partnerships, federations, anything to see if the future of the school could be protected, but because of the size, it's not economical for anyone to take it on.'

In a statement, local councillor Martin Wilby said local people had concerns about transport, space at nearby schools, and the future of the school building.

The school has just joined the newly-formed Sancroft Church Schools Trust, and executive headteacher Joel Crawley said: 'Although the future is not clear, the school has been part of the cluster for many years. We're going ahead on that basis and will be an equal partner. We're forging ahead and what will be, will be.

'We are a small school and we can feel quite isolated. But we can share resources, get together and visit the other schools and give the pupils the best we can, and aspirations.'

The final decision about closing the school will be made by Michael Rosen, the council's director of children's services.

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