Consultation on Great Bircham school closure plan was ‘flawed’, claim villagers

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Education news from the Lynn News,, @lynnnewscitizen on Twitter
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Protestors campaigning against the proposed closure of a Great Bircham primary school have written to Norfolk County Council to voice their objections.

School governors, parish and county councillors, members of the Save Our School campaign group and even a former headteacher were among those objecting to the plans to close King George VI School.

Village resident and former headteacher, Christopher Caseley spoke on behalf of the group. He said: “We believe the whole consultation process was flawed and we strongly object to the proposal. We also feel we have set out a viable alternative to the closure.”

The statement, which was sent to Sheila Lock on behalf of the School Organisation Team at NCC, claims there were errors in the notification of the original formal consultation.

They believe the school’s name and address were given incorrectly, as were the number of teaching staff and the time frame for the consultation.

The group also pointed out that on more than one occasion, meetings regarding the consultation had been arranged, only for members of the community to be turned away.

They said: “The meeting on July 2 was not well conducted with no identified chairperson and with the LEA and Diocesan representatives lecturing those attending more than listening to their ideas.”

Other concerns were raised in the statement over flaws in the report to the Children’s Services committee, including confusion over the position of the governors and claims of threats to remove them from office, or to terminite employment of school staff without their consent.

The group also highlight “misleading account of material facts” where they claim reports have said the school is to close due to financial reasons, while in meetings the school’s performance and leadership has been the problem.

They said: “It is our concludion that, when there was a “needing improvement” report from OFSTED in 2013 and the prospect of a gap in leadership, officers developed a plan for a rapid closure of the school assisted by denying help.

“When circumstances changed, they doggedly stuck to their plan, which involved denying help and operating a flawed consultation.”

They finish the report by suggesting an alternative route of keeping the staff and school maintained for two years to sustain resources while making a plan for the future, which could include creating a federation of four local schools, or using the school for other educational purposes.