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Monday, 9 July 2007

High Peak Borough Council:
Their Response to DCC In Full

Here is the reponse to DCC from High Peak Borough Council, following the meeting that we reported earlier.


Following a full debate of the Social Inclusion Select Committee of High Peak Borough Council on Monday 25th June 2007 I set out below the official response of the High Peak Borough Council.

The infants school at Combs is an outstanding school as described by the latest Ofsted inspection. The closure of it would be detrimental in many ways.

It would result in upheaval for many children and parents not just in the short term during the closure, but on an ongoing basis as parents, children and yourself as the Authority would be faced with logistical problems of getting the children to and from alternative schools. This would also have an impact in environmental terms, as car journeys, bus transport would all have to increase.

Whilst you quote various cost implications, Members felt that these were unsustainable, due to the figures being distorted by such things as the level of Small School Protection Funding enjoyed by Combs school, which creates an artificial impression that Combs does not offer the same value for money as other schools across Derbyshire.

Members felt that the closure of the school would have impacts beyond the educational ones in terms of community facilities for the village of Combs. The placement of the school within the village hall underpins the very existence of the hall and its use by the community. It is highly likely that this would be lost as a result of any school closure thereby having a wider detrimental effect on the village of Combs and also the local groups that use the Hall.

In summary, the Council would like to reinforce the following observations

  • We cannot support the closure of an Ofsted rated ‘outstanding’ school, resulting in the possibility of High Peak children being displaced to schools further away and not of their choice. This is in direct conflict with any ‘choice’ agenda

  • It is not proven that the closure will in any way help to reduce the surplus places at Chapel school, on the contrary the case has been made that it will have no effect on the problem

  • It is highly likely that the closure of the school will result in the eventual loss of the only remaining community facility in the village of Combs

  • The loss of the facility would then go on to threaten the existence of other local community Groups

  • The financial reasoning is inconsistent, vague and therefore not justifiable

  • The impact on traffic would result in greater CO2 emissions through increased journeys, or alternatively result in the possibility of children being forced to into unacceptable waiting times for transport to and from school

  • There is a presumption against closure of rural schools and the case for such a closure should be strong. We believe that the case is not strong
In conclusion, the Council strongly opposes the proposal to close Combs Infant School and urges Derbyshire County Council to retain and support the school.

Yours sincerely

Councillor Andrew Bingham
Member of the Executive

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