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Fears that flooded road could mean Norfolk children face 25-mile diversion if their school shuts

PUBLISHED: 15:27 13 May 2015 | UPDATED: 16:04 13 May 2015

The A1101 at Welney, which regularly closes due to flooding. Picture: Ian Burt

The A1101 at Welney, which regularly closes due to flooding. Picture: Ian Burt

Archant © 2012

Education bosses, who will decide whether a Fens school will shut, have been urged to think carefully about where uprooted pupils would go - to stop them facing a 25 mile detour because of a road which floods for months at a time.

William Marshall Primary School in Welney.William Marshall Primary School in Welney.

Norfolk County Council is consulting on the future of William Marshall Voluntary Controlled School in Welney, near Wisbech, which had just 24 pupils on roll at the start of the school year and which shares a headteacher with Upwell Community Primary School.

Ofsted inspectors said in 2013 that the school requires improvement and governors reluctantly acknowledged the school might have to close.

Consultation has been going on since last month and will continue until Monday, May 25, with a public meeting at the school next Tuesday.

If closure is agreed, then the school will shut in August.

Yesterday, county councillors discussed the school’s fate and raised concerns over where pupils would be sent if it does shut.

Harry Humphrey, county councillor for Marshland South, said it was sad a village which already lost its shop and post office now faced losing its school.

But he said he recognised the difficulties the governors had in making the school sustainable.

However, he said, if the school is closed, then the catchment areas established for pupils in the area needed careful consideration.

He said: “A problem with Welney is that you have a particular problem with the Wash road, which, when it floods, means a 25 mile detour.

“When considering catchment areas I wonder if that should be examined.”

Fellow councillor Brian Long, who represents Fincham, said: “The school in Upwell might be the obvious choice, but not if it means children face the diversion because the road is flooded for months.

“The pupils’ first school of choice should be one which means they do not have to cross that causeway.”

• Do you have an education story? Call Martin George on 01603 772468 or email martin.george@archant.co.uk

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