Battle to save rural school
A FIGHT is on to save a 500-year-old rural primary school from closure.
Pott Shrigley Church School has 25 pupils and operates in a federation with Bollington St John’s CE Primary. It’s at the heart of village life, praised by parents for its quality teaching and nurturing atmosphere.
But school governors have claimed it’s no longer financially viable and have proposed that it should be amalgamated with Bollington St John’s.
Parents, villagers and councillors say the school – which they say is one of the country’s oldest – is vital to the community and have formed a campaign group.
Jane Naumkin, parent and chairman of Save Pott Shrigley School (SPSS), said they will fight proposals so the consultation does not happen at all.
She said: “There are many reasons to keep the school open. It’s an outstanding school at the heart of the community and we need more school places for all the houses being built. If we don’t save Pott Shrigley, soon we won’t have an intake next year and our school will be gone forever.
“We hope this school will thrive well into the next 500 years and are calling on our community to join us.”
Pupil numbers are down from 40 three years ago to a current total of 25.
Chair of governors and dad of two, Richard Lofthouse, said: “One of the main issues is the government’s new rules which say reception pupils must have continual access to outdoor space, which we can’t do at Pott Shrigley.
“We get money for each pupil and numbers are diminishing. We inherited a deficit of £90,000 from the previous board earlier this year and now it’s less than £20,000 but it’s still not viable.”
Melanie Walker, headteacher, said: “The decision to amalgamate was not taken lightly by the governors, but was taken with the children’s best interests at heart. But this is not a done deal. The consultation will be long and thorough process.”
The school dates back to 1492 when the Lord of the Manor gifted a building for education. In 1951 the building was restored as a village hall and the trust which now runs the village hall leases it to the school.
Cheshire East leader Rachel Bailey has now appointed a panel of councillors to speak to stakeholders and do a review before a formal consultation into the amalgamation is started.
She said: “To demonstrate our commitment to rural schools we are setting up a cross-party panel of councillors, led by councillor George Hayes, to enable local stakeholders to provide us with their views.
“We’re planning engagement activities with community groups and the school, including teaching staff, parents and pupils of Pott Shrigley CofE, to understand the challenges and options, to ensure sustainable, high-quality education for children and to consider opportunities to mitigate the impact on the community.”
Edwina Currie opening the new Charlie’s sandwich shop and deli on Chestergate