Torrington Maypole row unravelled

THERE was hope this week of a compromise to ensure that Torrington s May Fair tradition will continue as usual. Pupils from Torrington Junior School last week brought home letters informing parents that Year 6 children would not be able to take part in th

THERE was hope this week of a compromise to ensure that Torrington's May Fair tradition will continue as usual.

Pupils from Torrington Junior School last week brought home letters informing parents that Year 6 children would not be able to take part in the traditional Maypole dancing in the square.

Governors informed that this action had to be taken because of poor SATs results for Year 6 children in recent years.

They said: "We have asked the local authority to provide us with additional support and resources in order to help us address quickly the school's current low academic standards. To do this we will have to make changes to a number of the ways the school has done things in the past. One early step we will take concerns the town's May fair celebrations. Given the proximity of May Fair to year national SATs tests, we have decided that from this year Year 6 pupils will not participate in the Maypole dancing, given the amount of school time required for rehearsals ahead of the SATs tests."


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The May Queen, crowner and heralds would be able to take their familiar roles, it was pointed out.

This brought a flood of protest from parents, who feared it would spoil the town's biggest day of the year.

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Local mother Rachel Wheatley posted her protest on the social website Facebook and mounted a petition in the town.

Almost 1,000 members joined the Facebook site, 170 signed up to an on-line petition and some 400 signed a paper petition, which was taken into the school.

But, in the meantime, experienced head teacher Sandy Brown was appointed by the education authority to join the school, which had previously been without a head teacher, to help it raise standards.

She started there on Monday.

After meeting on Monday night, the school governors gave hope of a solution to the Maypole row.

Chairman of governors Tim Williams said Ms Brown had noted the decision of the governors and the actions from the community since the note had been sent to parents.

She was intending to work with the children, parents and May Fair committee to try to resolve this to everyone's satisfaction, he said.

This would involve a regime whereby the children would be able to rehearse for May Fair in their lunch times, during PE times and after school, with the support of parents.

Parents evenings at the school this week would give the opportunity to gauge feelings, he said.

Mayor of Torrington Cllr Sue Mills said she was happy that everyone would now be working together to maintain the May Fair tradition and enable the Year 6 children to play their parts.

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