Skerton Primary School to close this summer

SKERTON Primary School will close this summer following a final decision by Lancashire County Council.

Staff, governors, parents and pupils had fought to save the Lancaster school after the proposals were announced last autumn amid falling rolls and poor Year 6 test results.

More than 1,500 people signed petitions during a public consultation and there were 104 objection letters.

The publication of formal closure notices was delayed after five county councillors, led by Morecambe West member Janice Hanson, 'called in' the decision for review.

Education chiefs were urged to re-think their plans after Ofsted inspectors declared the school 'satisfactory' and early years provision 'good', stating pupils who had been off track were now making the progress.

But cabinet member for schools and Ellel councillor, Susie Charles, said she was not confident progress could be sustained without the extra help being provided by the council.

The closure notices resulted in eight objections, including some from unions, but on Monday, County Coun Charles confirmed the school's closure. Councillors had until today, Friday, to again call in the decision for a final review but it appeared no moves had been made to do so as the Lancaster Guardian went to press.

Headteacher Diane Sheron said she was 'saddened and disappointed' by the council's decision.

"A letter was sent home to parents on Monday informing them of the decision, and obviously the reaction is one of great sadness," she said.

"Our staff are devastated, but their main priority is to ensure that the children who remain have an exciting term, where learning continues to be a priority.

"Arrangements are being made to ensure that the transition to new schools will be as smooth and stress-free as possible for each child.

"Accompanied visits to allocated schools will be arranged for every child towards the end of the summer term to familiarise them with their new setting."

Chair of governors, Sandra Thornberry, said: "I still feel such anger and sadness and frustration.

"They have taken away something that will never be replaced."

With closure looming, many parents took their children out of the school before Easter and just 68 now remain.

Of those who have left, 17 have moved to Ryelands Primary School; ten to Grosvenor Park Primary School in Morecambe; seven to Skerton St Lukes' CE Primary School; and six to St Joseph's RC Primary School.

County figures showed that in September 2009 there were 291 spare places at schools within a mile of Skerton Primary School.

County Coun Charles said the decision had been 'difficult', pledging to ensure places were available at neighbouring schools and that siblings were kept together.