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Cambridgeshire County Council votes to close village primary school

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Cambridgeshire County Council has approved the closure of Great Gidding primary school.

The final decision was taken today by the children and young people’s committee who voted 9-6 to approve the closure.

Education director Jon Lewis explained the background to the closure and described it as a “complex decision” that took account of demography, parental choice, and funding.

“It has been a challenging process including children, staff parents and communities consider balanced against our duty to sustain high quality education,” he said.

“The majority of pupils currently attending Great Gidding are from outside its catchment area,” said the report to councillors. A statutory notice and formal proposal to close the school on August 31 now follows.

Cambridgeshire County Council’s Children and Young People’s Committee voted today to approve the closure of Great Gidding school at the end of August

Mr Lewis said that since closure was announced as a possibility, school numbers had dropped.

There are now 15 attending, 10 of them in Year 6, and 29 children have since moved to other schools selected by their parents.

He said other schools retained the capacity to meet the needs of those parents yet to decide which school is best for their children.

“It remains the view of officers to proceed with closure to ensure the educational outcomes both short and long term of children,” he added.

As a church school the recommendation to close was made following liaison and consultation with the Diocese of Ely.

Canon Andrew Read, Director of Education for the Diocese of Ely said: “This is a regrettable but inevitable decision given the available funding for schools of this size, and the consequent educational challenges of adequately resourcing future provision.

“It has been made using all the appropriate consultative processes, including the close involvement of the diocese.

“Nonetheless, it has an immediate and recognised impact on current pupils, and I am grateful to the county council for their ongoing work that is supported by the diocese, to ensure that current children and families are well supported and catered for.”

Councillors had previously been told the majority of pupils currently attending Great Gidding are from outside its catchment area.

As at the October 2022 annual pupil census, there were 47 pupils on roll at Great Gidding.

Only 12 (25.5%) of those pupils lived in the Gt Gidding catchment. The remaining 35 pupils (74.5%) travelled to Great Gidding from other catchments.

The largest proportion of pupils attended from the Sawtry catchment.

Great Gidding (Church of England) VC Primary School is in northwest Cambridgeshire. Nearby villages include Little Gidding, Steeple Gidding, Winwick, Hamerton and Luddington in the Brook.

The closest larger village is Sawtry, 4.9 miles away.

The committee was told there had been “long standing concerns regarding the future viability of Great Gidding CE VC Primary School.

“In particular, falling pupil numbers, which were forecast to be below 40 in September 2023, financial issues generated by the low number on roll and the associated impact upon the quality of education provided.

“Officers approached 7 primary schools to explore possibilities for collaboration to support Great Gidding CE VC Primary School, but these approaches did not come to anything”.

 

 

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