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Joy as primary school is saved

THE children at Selsted Primary School have not been able to stop smiling today after news broke their school has been saved.

It was an unexpected announcement following recommendations to Kent County Council that it should shut, part of proposals to help slash the thousands of empty primary school places across the county.

But now new head teacher Catherine Taylor, her staff, parents and the 70 children are going to continue their campaigning community spirit to ensure their school is never again threatened.

County council cabinet member for education and school improvement John Simmonds said: "The issue has been complicated by the community facilities adjoining the school which could provide an additional major financial cost of up to £500,000 repayment to the New Opportunities Fund.

"The results from this year’s Key Stage tests are disappointing and they fell well short of the school’s own expectations. The new headteacher will be charged with the responsibility of improving these in a quick time frame because we want to see the school succeed.

"Without this improvement it is unlikely that the school would attract sufficient pupils to make it financially viable in the longer term."

Parent Costas Sotiriou, who heads up the schools’s action group, said: "I’m over the moon. We have been granted this reprieve and I am confident we will be a success. I am delighted common sense has prevailed."

Michael Howard, MP for Folkestone and Hythe, was pleased when he was told of the decision and said he had been happy to add his pressure to the cause.

The school is planning a celebration party at the Pavilion on Folkestone’s East Cliff on Saturday.

They are also telling television presenters Richard Madley and and Judy Finnigan, who learned about their plight and featured their campaign song, Save Our School, on their talk show, about their good news.

Meanwhile, more celebrations as the communities of Morehall and Harcourt Primary Schools in Cheriton are told they will not amalgamate.

The Schools Organisation Advisory Board recommended to leave the schools as they are and the county council agreed.

Mr Simmonds said: "We listened carefully to the views expressed during the public consultation and consulted with both the head teachers and governors.

"At both schools, considerable progress has been made improving standards and we are all in agreement that there is still more work to be done. It did not seem appropriate to interrupt this good work with the additional burden of a merger.

"Both schools were encouraged by the huge local support they received and it is to be hoped that with improving results more parents will be attracted to send their children to their local school.

"There is a need to look at alternative uses for the surplus space we have, particularly at Morehall, and we are investigating the possible provision of a children’s centre for the area. I wish both headteachers well in their search for excellence."

Harcourt parent Tracey Baker said: "This is a brilliant decision. I am proud of everyone involved in our campaign."

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