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Governor quits over West Norfolk primary school closure proposal

A West Norfolk primary school governor has resigned in protest at its proposed closure – accusing education chiefs of behaving “callously” towards its community.

The body that runs Wormegay CE Primary has claimed the plan to shut it and move pupils to a partner school in Runcton Holme is necessary because of falling pupil numbers.

But Sarah Hayman says that is down to poor management by its sponsor, the Diocese of Ely Multi-Academy Trust (DEMAT).

GV Picture of Wormegay Church of England Primary School. (44271095)
GV Picture of Wormegay Church of England Primary School. (44271095)

In her resignation letter, she said many parents had yet to tell their children about the proposal, which is the subject of an ongoing public consultation, because of the likely upset it would cause.

She also described the timing of the proposal during the coronavirus crisis as “shocking.”

And she added: “I, therefore, can no longer hold the role of a governor/advisor, with an organisation that is prepared to act so callously, and unbefitting of its title.”

Sarah Hayman, who has resigned as a governor of Wormegay CE Primary in protest at its proposed closure (44278012)
Sarah Hayman, who has resigned as a governor of Wormegay CE Primary in protest at its proposed closure (44278012)

Parents and residents have until early March to have their say on DEMAT’s plan, which would formally merge the Wormegay and Runcton Holme schools, with the latter being renamed the Holy Cross Primary Academy.

If the plan is approved, it could be implemented as soon as this September.

DEMAT bosses have pointed out that the two schools are part of an existing federation and share a headteacher, staff and governors.

They also claim that Wormegay pupils use the Runcton Holme site for PE lessons and the schools regularly combine for joint visits and activities.

But Mrs Hayman’s letter branded the latter claims “misleading”, arguing that Wormegay pupils spent less time at Runcton Holme in the 2018-19 academic year than in the two previous years.

She also claimed that such visits accounted for just two per cent of all available teaching time, adding: “I would hardly describe this as multiple events.”

And she also alleged the trust’s forecast that there would be only six pupils enrolled at Wormegay by 2023 demonstrated its “complete lack of action and engagement” with the school.

She said there were already the same number of primary school age children for that year in the nearby village of Tottenhill before Wormegay was taken into account.

She continued: “The only reason children are not going to this school is because [of] DEMAT’s failure to manage it.”

Mrs Hayman's resignation comes just days ahead of a virtual public meeting on the plan, which will take place on Zoom next Wednesday, February 10, from 7pm.

Places need to be booked in advance and opponents of the closure plan have claimed that the virtual consultation process reduces the chances for objectors to make their views known.

In a statement released yesterday, DEMAT chief executive Adrian Ball did not react directly to Mrs Hayman’s resignation, but insisted they would listen to the public’s views on the proposal.

Mr Ball said: “The Trust’s proposal to amalgamate Wormegay CofE Primary School with Runcton Holme CofE Primary School has been driven by rapidly falling pupil numbers at Wormegay.

“Demographics data has forecast that this trend will continue at Wormegay, resulting in a potential school role of just six pupils by September 2023.

“At next week’s public meeting, we will hear thoughts and concerns of parents, prospective parents, community members and those who have provided feedback during the consultation.”

To book places at the consultation meeting, visit www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/public-meeting-for-consultation-on-amalgamation-of-runcton-holme-and-wormeg-tickets-137391261963.

Consultation responses can be emailed to Consultation@demat.org.uk. There is also an online survey which can be accessed via the school’s website. The consultation continues until March 5.

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