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Published: 00:00, 26 January 2015
| Updated: 08:37, 26 January 2015
Parents are fighting to save a 140-year-old village primary school from possible closure.
Families only learned of the proposed fate of Stansted Church of England Primary School a day before the new September intake figures were announced.
An emergency meeting of the parish council will be held tonight to discuss the issue.
Many were expecting good news, despite the small, rural school being placed in special measures in 2013, having seen results in statutory tests for pupils, in Year 6 significantly improve last year.
However, the latest Ofsted monitoring inspection, carried out in December, stated the school, in Malthouse Road, was not making enough progress to come out of special measures.
A government-appointed interim executive board (IEB) then informed parents of its decision to propose closing the school, which has 35 children on its roll, by September this year during a meeting on Thursday, January 15.
Parent Grace Kiell, whose five-year-old daughter is a pupil, spoke of the shared anger at not only the proposal but also the way they were told.
“We were given a letter detailing the IEB would like a meeting with the parents,” she said.
“We all thought this would be to discuss the Ofsted findings and give us ways to help achieve the progress the school needs.
"We were completely shocked and heartbroken by the news" - parent Grace Kiell
“As soon as the meeting was opened one of the IEB informed us they had put in a proposal to the local authority to have the school closed.
“We were completely shocked and heartbroken by the news and we were extremely angered by that no meetings were set up to discuss this with parents before being put forward.”
Ms Kiell, who lives in West Kingsdown, said pupils had been allocated places at schools, depending on their postcode, which have to be accepted by the end of the month.
She added that at least 11 children were set to join the school in September, seven of which were siblings of current pupils.
Parents are now fighting to keep the school open. A Save Stansted C of E Primary School page has been set up on Facebook and the parish council is holding an emergency meeting in Stansted Hall from 8pm tonight (Monday).
Ms Kiell said parents were happy with the progress made since interim head teacher Andrew Livingstone was appointed, and he and teaching staff were equally shocked by the latest Ofsted report
She said the closure would ruin their children’s education by ripping them out of a school they love.
“The school has been open in the village for 140 years. Generation after generation of the same families have been taught at this school,” she added.
“Every child has a place in the hearts of every member of the teaching staff. Being such a small school it’s almost as if they are all one family.
“The older children look after the younger ones and every child knows each other’s names.”
Kent County Council said it agreed with Ofsted that the school had not made reasonable progress despite a significant level of investment and additional support.
It added there were also concerns about the school’s ability to provide appropriate social opportunities for its pupils and effective transition to secondary school.
Alternatives to closure, including conversion to academy status or federation with another school, had been considered and ruled out, while a formal consultation process began after the announcement was made.
Kevin Shovelton, KCC director of education planning and access, said: “Closure of a school is the last resort and a decision that is not taken lightly. We’ve taken all reasonable possible steps to protect the school, but unfortunately the education provided to pupils is still not to an acceptable standard.”
He added, however, that no final decisions will be made until after the consultation period ends on March 6 and all views considered.
A call was made by the Messenger to Stansted Primary School but no comment has been made.
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