Conservative lead Shirehall’s decision to close 22 primary schools, merge 16 more and indirectly threaten more with the same, has sent shock waves throughout Shropshire. Shock waves which are now being echoed in other parts of the country in Kent, Cheshire, Staffordshire, Derbyshire, Lincolnshire, Worcestershire and Oxfordshire.
We are not talking about small schools, we are talking about schools with good results and over 60 peoples, some of which are over subscribed. If these schools close the impact on their communitiesÂ will be enormous. Once these schools close the parents will take their children out of the village – some choosing to move out all together. Other community facilities will feel the pinch as ‘foot fall’ drops off. Post Offices – already under threat – will find it harder still to survive. Village shops, pubs, village halls will all be impacted by these closures. Working patterns will alter with more people commuting longer distances to work and school. Communities will become less viable as money is taken out of the local economy.
The Conservative Council with Labour support for passing this policy, The Labour Government for underfunding Shropshire, local Planners forÂ not allowing enough affordable housing provision in villages, allÂ have to take the heat on this one. However, the main heat should be felt by individual naive Councillors who voted for a policy that would decimate Shropshire Schools and jeopardise educational achievement.
Only the other day I was reading in the Shropshire Star about Conservative Cllr David Evans. He had voted for the Policy to closeÂ these schools. I read on Friday that he was opposed to theÂ closure of Onny School.Â Incredible. Surely he must have knownÂ what the selection criteria would be if this policy was accepted.Â Didn’t he know how many pupils attended schools in his area. Why didn’t he vote against the policy in the first place. On Saturday I read that Claud Bodenham, the former County Councillor for the area was calling him a hypocrite. On the face of it I would have to agree. ItÂ is disingenuous of CllrÂ Evans to try and have it both ways.Â
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Other schools who are not on the hit list but who are near the threshold should be very worried. Once Conservative councillors feel the heat from their electorate they will be looking for a way out of this mess. One Conservative has got 3 schools in their patch. If they manage to remove a school from the list for political reasons during the consultation process, with out fixing the claimed financial position, eyes at Shirehall will have to look elsewhere for their savings.
I would urge everybody to sign the ‘Save Our Schools’ petition at http://www.heatherkidd.org/