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Wednesday, 9 May 2007

Closure threat to a 'Rolls-Royce' school

This article by Louise Bellicoso appeared in the Buxton Advertiser on 9 May.

PLANS for the possible closure of an outstanding High Peak school have been slammed as an attempt to "destroy the village of Combs".

Governors were told of the proposals for Combs Infant School, which received an outstanding report in a recent Ofsted inspection, on Tuesday evening.

Chair of governors Nye Rowlands said: "The school is in the top ten per cent of schools in the country.

"This is a bolt from the blue. It is not a school with dwindling numbers.

"It is a possibility that the closure of the school will make it extraordinarily difficult to maintain the independence of the village hall.

"This will not just be the closure of one of the best schools, it is a strong possibility that this will lead to the loss of the last amenity in the village of Combs.

"The population of 200 will be left with a pub and nothing else, no shops, no place to meet. It is obviously a move to destroy the village of Combs," he added.

"There isn't any reason at all for this, other than I can only say that the cost of pupils in Combs is quite high compared with the average cost of infant pupils in Derbyshire.

"The philosophy seems to be that parents who send their children to Combs are getting a Rolls Royce because of the standard of schooling at Combs and they shouldn't be getting a Rolls Royce, they should be getting a Ford Mondeo, the average schooling.

"What Derbyshire (county council) should be doing is looking to bring other schools up to the standard of Combs."

A public meeting will take place at the school on May 22 at 6.30pm and Mr Rowlands added that if the decision was made to close the school, it would close in July 2008.

Derbyshire County Council said councillors will be asked on Tuesday whether to hold a public consultation into the plans.

They added the reasons for the plans were:

  • Combs Infant School has 25 pupils and 15 of those live outside the school catchment area.
  • It costs £5,447 to educate each pupil compared to a Derbyshire average of £2,635. This means pupils at other schools in Derbyshire get less funding.
  • It will mean shorter schools journeys for many pupils.
  • Most pupils already move to Chapel-en-le-Frith Primary School for their junior education.

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