Misterton Would Be Left Without A School Under Proposals
A concerned parent has asked specialist lawyers to investigate a potential legal challenge over plans to reorganise nine schools in south Somerset.
Somerset County Council has announced its intention to change its three-tier education system of first, middle and upper schools, to a two-tier model for primary and secondary schools.
Misterton First School would be closed leaving the village without a school, if the proposals affecting the Crewkerne and Ilminster area go ahead.
A four-week public consultation is under way regarding the plans.
Taylor Larcombe, whose six-year-old daughter attends Misterton First, has now contacted expert education lawyers at Irwin Mitchell. Taylor, who is part of a group of campaigners opposed to the changes, is concerned that closing the school will impact on the village and children’s education.
Expert Opinion“The reorganisation of schools is always an emotive subject which causes great deal of concern among affected communities.
“Taylor has a number of concerns about how the council has come to its decision and has asked us to investigate. We now will be analysing the decision-making process to determine whether all of the consequences of this move have been properly considered.
“It’s absolutely vital that decisions regarding the future of pupils are made lawfully and with the best interests of children at heart.” Rachael Louise Smurthwaite - Associate Solicitor
Somerset County Council said the decision to reorganise schools was made because of a reduction in the number of pupils.
Under the proposals Ilminster's Swanmead Community School and Greenfylde First School would be merged into a new split-site primary school.
Changes would also be made to Ashlands, Haselbury Plucknett, Maiden Beech, Merriott, St Bartholomew's and Wadham schools.
Taylor also has a 10-year-old daughter who attends Maiden Beech Middle School. It is earmarked to become a primary school.
Taylor said: “The closure of Misterton First School will have a significantly negative impact on the community and be devastating for all of the children and families connected with the school.
“It’s also completely unnecessary. It’s a thriving school, is graded as a ‘good’ school by Ofsted and offers children a good standard of education in a nurturing environment.
“Misterton First School is being denied the opportunity to convert to a primary school even though other schools in the area are being allowed to make the conversion.
“There is a statutory presumption against the closure of rural schools and we are seeking scrutiny of Somerset County Council’s decision, subsequent public consultation and adherence to statutory guidance. To date, we feel that there has been no genuine engagement with the community and only tokenistic actions from Somerset County Council.”
Taylor has set up a crowdfunding page to help her investigate the council’s decision making process.
For more information visit www.crowdjustice.com/case/misterton-first-school/