Future of schools is still undecided

Primary schools at risk of being axed came one step closer to closure this week following a council meeting.

East Riding of Yorkshire Council cabinet members voted on Tuesday 23 April to approve publication of the plans to shut Langtoft, Gembling and Dunswell Primary Schools.

A six week review period will now run until a Cabinet meeting on Tuesday 25 June when the fate of the schools will be decided.

The decision has been met with disappointment from head teachers and parents who have campaigned to halt proposals to close the schools.

Jane Moat, head teacher at Gembling Primary School, said: “Today’s decision by the Cabinet to uphold the proposed closure of Gembling school albeit with a further period of representation leaves me with very mixed emotions.

“Mixed because within the sadness with the loss of the school and everything that it means to the pupils, staff, parents, governors and community there is also disillusionment at the factual and fiscal led process in which there is neither care nor empathy for those involved - both qualities that are part of the daily bread of what we do in every school.

“I would like to thank Councillors Evison and Owen for reflecting the depth of feeling that our local community have shown and their support for the future of these schools.”

Should the Cabinet decide to close the schools at the June meeting, Langtoft and Gembling Primary Schools will close by August 2013, with pupils placed in neighbouring schools.

Councillor Julie Abraham portfolio holder for children, young people and local authority schools at East Riding Council thanked parents and teachers for sending their letters and emails promoting the voice of the children from the schools.

She acknowledged the value of the primary schools to the community, but in the case of all three backed the officer’s recommendation to close the schools.

“Modern times bring modern problems and non more so than the requirement to introduce the Government’s local funding formula with its restrictive number of allowable factors set against the background of being the third worst funded local authority in the country,” said Coun Abraham at the meeting on Tuesday.

Gembling Primary School currently has 26 pupils and Langtoft has 16. Langtoft costs the cash-strapped East Riding Council £14,475 per pupil - four times the amount spent on pupils elsewhere in the county.

Jo Richardson, a driving member of the Save Langtoft School Committee, said: “The questions that followed the statement from Councillor Abraham from cabinet members saw both Coun Jonathan Owen and Coun Jane Evison saying there was more support for Langtoft School than Coun Evison had seen anywhere else.

“There were documents missing out of the report from members of our committee. We will just be asking people to resend anything that has already been sent along with further information.

“We were very disappointed at the news but there was a lot of support in the room for us which gave us a bit of hope.

“We can’t say this is the end because we have got the six weeks consultation period.”

The group have recently petitioned against the closure and gathered 928 signatures against closing the school from members of the public.

Coun Abraham asked the public to resend their comments for the second stage of the consultation process if they feel their views were not considered at Tuesday’s meeting.