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Thursday, 12 July 2007

At the Mercy of Politicians

The following letter from the Chair of Governors at Combs Infant School appeared in today's Buxton Advertiser.

I think Sue Oliver's letter* to your newspaper last week was correct and the governors of Combs Infant School value the close working relationship and the professionalism of all the schools in this area.

The final date for comment on the initial proposal has now passed and I must pay tribute to the fantastic campaign that has been waged by everybody in the Combs community, from the parents at the school to all those people who value the village hall and the church as a focal point.

We have proved that the village depends on a robust partnership of school and Village Hall Trust, the latter rescuing the school by raising money to repair the church and later to provide excellent classroom and toilet facilities through contributions and a successful bid to the Lottery Fund.

There is no doubt all this will be swept away if the school closes.

We now have the actual figures, proving that the cost of running the school** last year is far lower than the cost put forward by Councillor Alan Charles, down from £5,447 to £4,059. Central Government and local government all agree that it costs more to run a rural school than an urban school but these figures show that Combs Infant School costs a lot less than most rural schools, again thanks to the contributions from the local community.

Nearly all the children come from less than three miles away from the school and parents have carried out a survey proving that there will be at least 37 children of pre-school age in the natural recruiting area in the next four years.

Parents are angry and concerned because they believe they have the right to choose four to seven schools for their children and that is the policy of the present government in Westminster.

Combs Infant School is now at the mercy of the politicians who run the county.

All the local authorities and organisations we know about in the High Peak have pledged support for the school.

It is not a party political issue and all three major parties in the area have asked the County Council to reconsider their proposal.

The statutory guidance published alongside the 2006 Education Act has not been followed so far and the Council seems to have ignored even their own guidelines in school re-organisation, so we move to the decision in the hope that they will realise this when they study the case for Combs in detail and vote overwhelmingly to retain this outstanding school which is in the top three per cent of infant schools nationally.

Nye Rowlands
Chair of Governors
Combs Infant School
* Ms Oliver's letter to the Buxton Advertiser, which appeared in the 5 July edition, can be read here.

** These costs are, of course, cost-per-pupil.

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