‘Heated’ public meeting sees Suffolk community rally around under-threat Stutton Primary School

Stutton Primary School. Picture: GREGG BROWN

Stutton Primary School. Picture: GREGG BROWN - Credit: Gregg Brown

Community leaders, parents and a Suffolk MP have said they are prepared to fight to save a village primary school from closure.

Around 80 people, including ex-governors, former pupils, prospective parents and council chiefs gathered at Stutton Primary School on Thursday evening to explore options for its future.

Fears were raised late last month that the school, on the Shotley Peninsula, could close as early as 2018 after pupil numbers plummeted from 51 to just 19.

Guests said the public meeting got quite heated and emotional, but bosses said they owed it to parents and governors to explain what was going on.

Interim headteacher Anne Clarke said it was clear that the community were determined to help in any way they could.

“There was overwhelming support for the school and many offers of help,” she said.

“They (the school governors) recognised that in this political and financial climate, the school is unlikely to be viable in the long term as a standalone school and negotiations are taking place with other schools and multi-academy trusts.

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“However, the vital importance of choosing the right option for the school was emphasised and the governors are writing a five-year strategic plan which will underpin everything they do.

“There were some very helpful suggestions from the general public as well as practical offers of help and members of the community, as well as parents, have committed to actively seek sponsorship to give the governors time to implement this strategy in the best interests of the children and the school.”

South Suffolk MP James Cartlidge and Gordon Jones, Suffolk County Council’s cabinet member for education, were also at the meeting.

The council is proposing to start a consultation on the school’s future on September 11 if a clear plan is not agreed by then.

Ms Clarke admitted it the school had experienced a “turbulent” 18 months which saw Ofsted give school a ‘requires improvement’ ranking.

But parents were reassured that efforts were being made to raise this - with a far wider range of extra-curriculum activities being made available.

Ms Clarke said she could see that the community would join governors in fighting hard to keep the school open.