A primary school in Eccles opened its doors to pupils for the last time ever on Wednesday, after Norfolk County Council determined it was “not sustainable in the long term” and consequently would have to close down.
Eccles, Hargham and Wilby Church of England Primary School, located in Wilby Road, ceased its services this week, only three years after the school received a ‘Good’ rating from inspectorate body Ofsted.
The decision to shut the school, which had just 27 pupils registered at the time of closure, was made in a report by Sheila Lock, director of Children’s Services at Norfolk County Council, as a result of a four-month consultation period.
The report concluded: “The Local Authority recognises that the closure of a village school is an emotive issue for the local community.
“However, it is clear that this generation of parents in the village are choosing to send their children to schools which they feel can offer a broader range of activities and experiences.”
County councillor Stephen Askew, who had lobbied for the school’s future prospects, said he was disappointed by the way in which the decision was made, stating that he felt the process “was being ploughed through to closure.”
“I appreciate that a school does not have to remain open just for the sake of it, but I spent time with governors and parents and we think there was a case for why this school could have stayed open,” he said.
“However, we never even had a chance to debate it.”
A statement from Norfolk County Council has indicated that the decision was not discussed by councillors because it had come during a transitional period between a cabinet and committee system.
Cllr Askew said he wanted assurances that no more council decisions on the futures of other schools would be made by just one person and felt the closure of Eccles Primary should have been debated by a committee.
He said: “I felt that a longer-term strategy could have seen this school thrive.
“If the committee had discussed it and come to the same decision, then fair enough. But it doesn’t feel like democracy was allowed to run its course.”