Parents angered by primary school ‘switch’

Parents of pupils at Lapford Primary School fear moving Year 6 pupils to Chulmleigh Primary School n

Parents of pupils at Lapford Primary School fear moving Year 6 pupils to Chulmleigh Primary School next September could signal the beginning of the end for their village primary. - Credit: Archant

Year six pupils must travel eight miles to be taught in neighbouring village following academy trust decision.

PARENTS have been told they must ship their children eight miles to a neighbouring primary school from September.

Year 6 pupils at pupils in Lapford and East Worlington face a daily bus journey to be taught at Chulmleigh Primary School – part of a bid by the Chulmleigh Academy Trust to raise educational standards.

The decision has angered parents in Lapford, who fear the move could spell the beginning of the end for their village primary, which opted to join the academy in January last year.

They say that it will make the school less attractive to prospective parents and decrease the viability of the school and preschool.

Lorraine Kigongo, who has two children at Lapford and runs the village pre-school, said: “It could have a huge impact. Parents are already concerned and are thinking about where they can school their child so that they have a continuous provision of education.

“But the trust says they’ve made the decision now and won’t budge – there will be no more education here for Year 6 pupils.

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“It’s crazy to think that my daughter will be the oldest girl in the school next year, aged just nine.”

In a village of just 250 homes, 370 people have signed a petition opposing the changes. Some feel that aspects of school life beyond educational attainment have been overlooked.

Davina Curtis, who has one child at the school, said: “The children will miss out on after school clubs and community activities and the extra travelling will impact negatively on the family and our quality of life.

“It is our parental choice – had we wanted to enrol our children at Chulmleigh we would have done so.

“They haven’t listened to families; there has been no negotiation and a lack of communication between the chain of academy schools.”

Janet May, whose 10-year-old daughter Tiffany is among the 13 children from Lapford who will have to travel to Chulmleigh next term said: “Next year I will have three children in three different schools.

“How can a board of seven directors overrule a whole community? Surely there is a right for children to be educated at the site they are registered at and continue their education with their friends as they do at other schools?

“The only reason they are doing it is to raise the academy’s SAT results but there is no evidence that moving Year 6 children to Chulmleigh is going to be beneficial to their education.

“There has been no professional risk assessment on the children emotional and psychological well-being.

“Happy children do well and Lapford children are happy children. We are fighting for our school and there is so much support in the community and they should really listen to that.

Hayley Hardy, who currently has a child in Year 5 and Year 1, said: “The children have come from the pre-school all the way up and they want to stay.

“They were looking forward to being the head of the school and they were told one term beforehand that they are moving.

“We are not ant-academy – we are just unhappy with the decision that has been made.”

Academy executive headteacher Mike Johnson said: “I acknowledge the anxiety that many parents have about these changes and we are sorry that some parents feel unhappy about the way consultation took place. Many hours of meetings, including with the wider community, have taken place to discuss various options.

“The educational welfare of the children is our utmost priority.

“Lapford Primary School had experienced a significant fall in roll before the Academy Trust was asked to help. Since joining the trust, numbers and standards have improved, but not quickly enough.

“In the medium term, we believe that prospective parents will find a school with high educational standards to be attractive. Lapford Primary School is viable and we have been unwavering about this. Raising educational standards is the lynchpin of Lapford Primary School’s viability.

“As part of the thinking around this change, we have drawn up a transition plan that includes ensuring that the children continue to identify with the school and their community.

“The trust operates in a very tight accountability framework. We are acutely conscious that schools are funded by the taxpayer. The funding agency and Ofsted have made it crystal clear that standards must be at least ‘good’.

“Our plan is in place to work towards an outstanding education for all the children, including those at Lapford Primary School.”

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