Following the announcement today of the closure of Great Gidding Church of England Primary School by Cambridgeshire County Council, Shailesh Vara MP has expressed his sadness at the decision. The announcement brings to an end a school which has been at the heart of the community for nearly 150 years.
The Council has said that falling pupil numbers have led to an increase in cost-per-pupil, making the school financially unviable. However, Mr Vara has stressed the important role that such schools play in communities, and that the Government's guidance is for rural primary schools to remain open.
Moreover, he has argued that schools should not be run on business principles, and that the decline in pupil numbers can be explained, in part, by the expected closure, which has led to parents taking their children to other schools.
Following the announcement, Mr Vara said:
“Today is a sad day for education. Rural primary schools play a key role in the community, not least because they help to attract young families to the area.
“Despite government guidance to keep rural primary schools open, the new administration at Cambridgeshire County Council has decided to close this much-valued school, which has been at the heart of the community for some 150 years.
“The decision is based on financial reasons, and there has been little regard for the needs of the local community.
“I very much hope that other small primary schools in the county will not be treated in the same way.”