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Wednesday, 25 July 2007

Our Plea

Knowing that it will be a long time before the DCC Cabinet reads the full report on Combs School, we wanted them to have the main points of the argument to think about over the summer.

Nye Rowlands, chair of the school governors, has sent a document entitled "Our Plea" to all the Cabinet members today.

They will have no excuse for not understanding the facts, when it comes to decision time.

Nye's document begins:

The Governors and Parents of Combs Infant School have been extremely concerned about the lack of dialogue between ourselves and the County Council during this informal stage of the consultation process.

There have been many issues and misconceptions to be dealt with but, since the evening of May 22nd 2007, there has been an ominous silence on the part of the County.

Nobody has responded to our invitations to visit us, so we hope you will read this appeal to keep our school open as we summarise the case we have thoroughly prepared.
After summarising the many faults in DCC's case, and the strong evidence that supports the preservation of Combs School, Nye's document ends like this:
  • Combs is among the top 3% of all infant schools nationally so why sack the staff in July 2008?
  • The dedicated staff ensure that all pupils reach their potential without recourse to enhanced resource bases or extra expenditure. This is a model for all other Derbyshire schools.
  • The village of Combs depends on the partnership of School, Village Hall and Church - a partnership which is vital to the survival of this rural community. This plea is supported by all the local councils, residents and the Peak National Park. Closing the school removes the village hall and the focus of the community.
  • Unlike Stoney Middleton, Combs is to be denied access to an adjudicator and the parents will be forced to appeal through the potentially expensive process of judicial review — this despite the fact that the decision to propose closure was made before the 2006 Education Act came into force.
  • Governors and parents have proved conclusively that Derbyshire has not followed the statutory guidance laid down in that Act nor have they followed their own school reorganisation procedures.
  • We believe the true saving per annum of destroying a community and closing an outstanding school providing “outstanding value for money” (OfSTED 2006) is less than £20,000 per annum, if that.

Combs Infant School currently stands as a symbol of the triumph of Derbyshire County Council’s defence of rural communities and a shining example of partnership — promoting cohesion and excellence.

Please ensure its survival by speaking up for local success and voting against a proposal that saves next to nothing, sacks hardworking staff, and lifts mediocrity above the level of real achievement in Derbyshire.

You can download a copy of the full document(101k, PDF format).

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