Fears funding will force Easton Garford Primary School closure

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Angry parents are concerned that a village primary school is under threat of closure due to funding issues.

Doubts have been raised over the future of Easton Garford Primary School, in Easton-on-the-Hill.

The school is run by the Peterborough Diocese Educational Trust (PDET) which sent parents a letter recently outlining a bleak scenario.

The trust is concerned at projected low pupil numbers and claims there will be 28 children in 2017/18 and 18 in 2021/22.

It says the shortage of pupils means that the school is “not financially sustainable with its current staffing structure”.

The PDET states that under funding formulas the school’s income will fall by £16,229 in 2017-18 with a yearly overall school deficit of £48,024 as a result.

It adds that over the next five years the cumulative loss is likely to be £350,000.

As a result the PDET says it proposes spreading teaching across Easton Garford School and another of its facilities - Ryhall Academy, in Rutland.

It is keen to stress that Easton Garford School, in Northamptonshire, will not close.

Bosses at the PDET did however add that they will reconsider the future of the Easton on the Hill school after a consultation with stakeholders.

The response has done little to quash fears that Easton Garford School could close or that staff could face redundancy.

Parent Ian Scrivens’ son Harry, six, has autism and attends the school, and he has set up a Facebook page, Save Easton Garford School, in response to the issue.

He is unsure as to whether he wants Harry to attend Ryhall and says it might mean him moving there temporarily and then onto another facility adding that change which would be bad for his autism.

Mr Scrivens, 40, of Cornflower Close, Stamford, who has a daughter Agatha, who would join the school in September 2018, said: “We think they are going to close the school in September and we’re trying to set up a campaign to keep it open.

“It’s a shame for the school as it’s doing really, really well and the parents are happy with how it is doing.

“They say it’s due to economic forecasts and they seem to be forcing the kids to go to Ryhall.

“It’s ridiculous and too short notice if we need to apply to send the kids elsewhere.

“We hope to convince them to keep it open.”

A meeting between parents and the trust took place this week but parents are still not happy.

PDET’s chief executive, Miranda Robinson said: “This is one of the oldest church schools in the diocese and it is disappointing that we have to propose this action.

“However, given the financial climate, we feel this is the best option for continuing to provide the good quality of education children currently receive from the dedicated staff at Easton Garford School.”

The trust did not respond to questions from the Mercury about how many staff faced redundancy or if the school would close in the future.

But a spokesman for Northamptonshire County Council said: “There is currently a proposal by the PDET for Easton Garford School to cease operating from its current site in September.

“It is proposed that pupils will be educated at Ryhall Academy for an interim period as a result of this.

“A consultation is now underway and the county council will respond as a statutory consultee.”

The trust runs 20 academies across Northamptonshire and Cambridgeshire including Weldon Primary School.

Conservative MP Tom Pursglove, who covers Easton-on-the-Hill, was unable to comment at the time of going to press.

Rutland County Council also did not provide a comment.