Published: 00:01, 19 February 2019
| Updated: 08:39, 19 February 2019
Parents in Hersden fear school bosses are "embarrassed" of its name after plans were announced to rebrand the local primary.
The Stour Academy Trust, which runs Hersden Village Primary, has revealed it wants to rename the school as part of an expansion proposal.
It says the move will reflect the "extended community" of the former mining village, which is set to experience a population boom when nearby housing developments are complete.
But villagers say it feels like "a kick in the teeth" and fear the trust is "ashamed" of the name Hersden.
They fear the heritage of the school, which opened in 1960s, will be lost, and are concerned the name change is linked to the poor reputation once associated with the village.
Former pupil and parent Sarah Carden, 32, said: “To be honest it feels like a kick in the teeth when we have worked so hard to turn around the reputation of the village.
“No one I have spoken to thinks it is a good idea and we are even considering setting up a petition against it.”
Sarah, who volunteers at the community centre, says her family first came to Hersden after the war when her grandfather arrived from Newcastle to work at the Chislet Colliery.
“Hersden is our name and heritage but the planned change makes it sound like it is something we should be ashamed of,” she added.
Villager and former pupil Louise Murphy Waite said: “People are up in arms about it. It just sounds like they are embarrassed by the name Hersden when it’s actually our heritage.
“The community is proud of our heritage and a lot of us are original mining families.
“I feel there’s already a divide between the original village and the newer part and this will just make it worse.
"We shouldn’t lose our name to please new people.”
The trust’s chief executive, Simon O’Keefe says a new name and the expansion plan - which includes four new classrooms and a new library - will open up a fresh chapter in the school’s history.
“With the extensive support the school has received from the Trust, to suggest that the Trust is ‘ashamed’ of the name of the school is preposterous,” he said.
“The Trust is extremely proud of the school and believes that a new name, along with the expansion, allows for a new chapter to be opened in the history of the school.
“The passionate response by many parents over this proposed change is seen as an indication of how much parents value their school.
“Ultimately, the most important factor is the quality of teaching and learning that takes places on a day-to-day basis.”
All children will be provided with branded uniform free of charge when a new name is chosen following a consultation, which ends on March 8.
More by this authorGerry Warren