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Stoke Primary Academy saved from merger with Allhallows Primary School

ByKatie May Nelson

Pupils are celebrating after finding out they will be able to stay at their school.

Stoke Primary Academy, Allhallows Road, Lower Stoke, was due to close at the end of this term under proposals from the Leigh Academies Trust, which runs the school.

Under the plans, pupils at the school would have merged with nearby Allhallows Primary School.

Protestors march from Stoke Primary Academy to Allhallows Primary Academy to rally against merger plans (13238501)
Protestors march from Stoke Primary Academy to Allhallows Primary Academy to rally against merger plans (13238501)

However, following a decision from the government made yesterday, the merger was not approved.

Last month, parents took to the roads connecting the two villages - a 1.5 mile walk - to protest the merger and demonstrate transport issues.

Banners adorned the village of Lower Stoke, where the local councillor commented that the merger would “rip the heart out of the village".

Protestors march from Stoke Primary Academy to Allhallows Primary Academy to rally against merger plans (13238487)
Protestors march from Stoke Primary Academy to Allhallows Primary Academy to rally against merger plans (13238487)

Leigh Academies Trust spokesman Richard Taylor said: "Leigh Academies Trust has been informed this afternoon that Lord Agnew, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the School System, has decided, at this point, not to approve the merger of Allhallows and Stoke Primary Academies.

"Over the next few months, we will be developing positive future plans for the academies and will be sharing these with parents and carers in due course.

"We will be welcoming pupils to both sites in September, although Stoke pupils in Years one and two will continue, as at present, to undertake lessons at Allhallows for the foreseeable future.

"We recognise that discussions over the last few weeks have evoked some strong feelings but we look forward to continuing to work with parents and carers to achieve the best possible educational outcomes for all pupils."

Parents and villagers lead protest against Stoke Primary Academy closure

Campaign coordinator Chris Spalding said: "This is absolutely brilliant news; it's a great end-of-term present not just for the parents and pupils, but also the village.

"However, we will continue fighting to keep the school in the village in the future and we are incredibly grateful to everyone involved in the campaign.

"The local community is open to the Trust and we look forward to working with them over the next few months and years to make sure that Stoke and Allhallows, both very good schools, are ready to cope with the people coming in from the new proposed developments on the Peninsula."

Kelly Tolhurst MP for Rochester and Strood
Pictures: Darren Small(6913257)
Kelly Tolhurst MP for Rochester and Strood Pictures: Darren Small(6913257)

MP for Rochester and Strood Kelly Tolhurst said: “I am delighted that the Minister has declined this proposal and that he understands the devastating impact which the closure of Stoke Primary School would have on our rural villages.

“Common sense has prevailed and I thank Lord Agnew for agreeing with our concerns, this has only been achieved because of the hard work of the local community in Stoke, the Save Our Stoke School campaign team, and also Cllr Phil Filmer who has worked with me to stop this proposal in its tracks.

“Lord Agnew understood and also shared our concerns about the proposed merger of the schools.

"However what we must realise is that to keep our schools open, as a community we must support them by sending our children to them, and working with Leigh Academies trust, in order to improve educational attainment for our village schools to become sustainable for the future. I have committed to work with the community on this.”

Parents were informed of the decision last night. Pupils will be celebrating with a school party on Tuesday, the last day of term.

Read more: All the latest news from Medway

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