“With no formal consultation started, the new school year will begin as usual” – that’s the thoughts of Peter Shreeve, Assistant District Secretary of the National Education Union, about Chillerton & Rookley Primary School.
Campaigners say that the closure of the much-loved Chillerton and Rookley Primary School is looking ‘increasingly unlikely’ thanks to a refresh at County Hall and a principled objection to closing rural schools by new Conservative group leader, Steve Hastings.
Speaking prior to the election, Councillorr Hastings said:
“In principle, I am completely against the closure of any rural school. I recall my visit to the school and I found it a very well loved school and the fabric of the village of Chillerton, which is a tight knit community.”
Hastings’ views are said to be shared by many other councillors, including the leaders of all elected parties and groups. Council officers and the school’s governing body, the Stenbury Federation, have refused to provide information on the proposed closure timetable.
It is hoped that the new council will follow government guidelines and keep the much-loved rural school open by working with parents and community members. A popular solution being proposed is to create a flexi-school, which is successful elsewhere in the country and would secure the long term viability of the school as well as supporting home educating families.
Parent Hannah Dawkins said:
“There is a real family feel to Chillerton and Rookley. The children play together across all year groups and the staff are fantastic. My son leaves and returns happily every day from this loving, caring school.”
Parents Mr and Mrs Sinfield added:
“The primary school at Chillerton is endeared by all that have had the opportunity to attend. There are 19 primary schools closer to our home, but the travel is far outweighed by the beautiful setting and warmth of character it instils in all pupils that attend. We also cannot thank the teaching staff enough for their part in maintaining that environment.”