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Shock at decision to shut school

BOSSES at Meredale Infants School in Rainham are reeling from shock after councillors recommended that their school be closed.

Council members decided that a new primary school should be set up at nearby Wakeley Junior School in Rainham instead.

The two Rainham schools were under discussion following public consultation set up because pupil numbers at both schools were declining. Six options were on the table but the youth and education overview committee chose to recommend number four: close both schools and establish a new 210-place primary school at Wakeley.

Chair of governors at Meredale, Henry Clough ,said: "We are gravely disappointed with the decision and have reservations about the size of the new school. It's the children we have to consider and we believe that education standards are likely to fall."

Head teacher Eileen James was too shocked to talk about the decision. All she would say was that she was "numb".

At the meeting it was disclosed that Meredale's last Ofsted report showed it is a very successful school and had been awarded the Basic Skills Agency Primary Quality Mark Award along with the Sports Active Award, the Healthy Schools Award and an Investors in People Award.

It was also said that Wakeley's standards had improved. In national curriculum tests 62 per cent achieved level four or above in English and 64 per cent in mathematics. Their Ofsted report described how the school had made satisfactory progress since its previous inspection.

Committee member Cllr Geoff Juby said: "The option chosen was thought to be the best option because of size and safety. The Wakeley site has more flexibility with space and because its entrance is off road it is deemed safer for children when being dropped of and picked up by their parents.Ó

Meredale's board of governors are holding a meeting to discuss whether or not they will appeal against the recommendations. But the final decision will be made by the cabinet at Medway Council in a couple of weeks.

The other options were: to take no action, leave Meredale open and close Wakeley; establish a new primary school on the Meredale site and close both schools; federate the two schools - meaning they would have their own budgets but a single governing body and a single head or to keep both schools as separate infant and junior on the bigger Wakeley site.

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