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Parents protest against Tivetshall Primary School's potential closure




Parents have raised their objections over the proposed closure of a primary school, saying it would “destroy the heart of the village”.

The Sapientia Education Trust started consultations last month on amalgamating two of its primary schools in Tivetshall and Burston due to decreasing pupil numbers.

Parishioner Paul Playford, whose five children went to Tivetshall Primary School, said: “When I first heard about it, I felt shock and sadness, because I do know it is a good school and my children benefited a lot from the smaller school education.

Parents and parishioners are campaigning to save Tivesthall School (STS). Pictures by Mark Bullimore.
Parents and parishioners are campaigning to save Tivesthall School (STS). Pictures by Mark Bullimore.

“I think closing the school would destroy the heart of the village.”

Parents objecting to the proposal said that a small village school offers more educational value for children and that some parents had moved into the village in order for their children to attend the school.

John Tully, whose youngest son currently attends the school, said: “We understand the school is struggling for numbers, but we want to put an argument to the trust which says this is a wake-up call, we see real value in what the school offers.

Tivetshall Primary School is at risk of closing and merging with Burston Primary.
Tivetshall Primary School is at risk of closing and merging with Burston Primary.

“My older child, Aidan, is now at Archbishop Sancroft High School and he is doing extremely well. I am convinced that’s because of the type of school Tivetshall is.”

Mr Tully, of The Street, added: “My son, Samuel, who is eight, was a bit upset when he learned of the possible closure of the school.

“He likes the school and his teachers; he doesn’t want it to close.”

Other parents argued that the new executive headteacher Mark Carlyle had not been given sufficient time to increase pupil numbers at Tivetshall, which have dropped to 17. Burston currently has 29 pupils enrolled.

“The ideal outcome would be to see the trust subsidise the school for at least one or two years,” said Mr Playford, a former chairman of the parish council.

“It is really down to them to say whether they are for small schools or not. Wouldn’t it be amazing if they could say ‘we have given this school a chance’ and it pulls around?”

Jonathan Taylor, the trust chief executive officer, told the Diss Express last month that it is vital to consider how small schools can be sustainable.

He said: “The proposal to amalgamate the two schools builds on the long-established links between the schools and would help to ensure future viability.

“In the opening consultation, we are very interested in hearing views from stakeholders and the wider community.”

Tivetshall Primary School is at risk of closing and merging with Burston Primary.
Tivetshall Primary School is at risk of closing and merging with Burston Primary.

If the proposal is approved, the schools will be formally merged in May 2020.

Parent Steve Dalliston said: "I'm sure that selling the positives that Tivetshall has to offer, along with some innovative ideas that are possible now that we are part of Sapientia Educational Trust that pupils would travel to Tivetshall school and make it viable in its own right.

"Before looking into ways to close it, would SapientiaEducational Trust consider a consultation into how to save Tivetshall Primary School?"

Further comments by parents:

Monika Darkintiene said: "My family and I moved into Tivetshall last year knowing that my son, 8, would be able to go to the Tivetshall Primary School and that my twins would be able to go there when they are older.

"My son has grown in confidence and independence since starting at Tivetshall.We ask that you reconsider shutting the school and instead think of alternative plans, which do not have such an impact on the families in the village."

Holly Hale said: "My daughter started school here a year ago when she was 4 years old. My partner and I moved here so that she could attend a small village school.

"Each child has the opportunity to develop a close teacher-student relationship. Academically she has blossomed and I'm so pleased with her progress."

Staff member and mum Liese Tully said: "I work at the school and also have a child at the school. There is so much to offer at Tivetshall Primary.

"We have fantastic outside learning areas including a vegetable garden and the children really love this; a lovely Early Years area; a great library; a breakfast club and after school club.They learn and they have fun. I am passionate about this school and the children in it."

The trust is unable to confirm whether there will be redundancies for teaching and administrative staff employed at the school.


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