Accepting the closure of a school

Insight – Primary School

What was the issue addressed?
Our headteacher was overworked and under pressure, facing the prospect of becoming the only teacher in our small school. The governors wanted to support her but knew that the position of our school was probably untenable, due to dwindling numbers. Some governors wanted to fight on and remain open, but others were more realistic. As a GB, we had to seek advice from multiple sources to form a definite opinion on how to proceed.

What happened?
The GB sought advice from the county council, requested numerous meetings (which were arranged) and met with community representatives to discuss the prospect of closure. The GB ultimately decided to enter into voluntary closure, against the wishes of some governors. The support of local people was invaluable and their input led to a series of events to celebrate the life of the school and turn our final year into a joyful one.

What lessons were learnt?
Despite the sad outcome, the closure of our school was dignified and positive, so, our actions were successful in resolving the issue. The lesson we can learn from this process is that making the right decision will not always be the outcome we, as governors want. Making difficult choices is part of being an effective governor and the needs of the children must always remain paramount.

Facing a school closure is of course a very difficult and emotive time. It is apparent in this case that the governing body sought information and advice from several sources before making a difficult decision on the best way forward. Thinking about the wider picture and considering what is viable and what is best for the pupils is paramount in the long run.

Unfortunately, governors have to make difficult decisions from time to time, but looking at all the information and evidence in a considered way, and following the correct processes will certainly help to inform the governing body on how best to proceed.

Detailed discussion with governors is crucial and whilst some governors did not agree, the majority carried the decision. What is particularly heartwarming is the fact that the closure was ‘dignified and positive.’ This is so important.

The School Organisation Code sets out the requirements, principles and factors to be taken into account for any school organisation proposal.

With advice from the Local Authority, Diocesan Authority as appropriate, and researching all avenues, the governing body will be able to consider any proposal/s as objectively as possible.

Do you any worries about the possibility that your school may have to close sometime in the near future?
What difficult decisions has your governing body had to take in the interests of pupils?

Have your say…
Have you had experiences similar to these?
What do you think about the situation described?

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Sam MacNamara – 07943 887275 / Jane Morris – 07957 969708