Strong turnout for school in jeopardy

UNDER THREAT: Whitbourne Primary School faces closure

UNDER THREAT: Whitbourne Primary School faces closure

First published in News Ledbury Reporter: Sarah Hickinbotham by

CONCERNED parents and residents turned out in force to show their support for a village school threatened with closure.

About 100 people attended a public meeting on Wednesday to hear from representatives of Hereford-shire Council about their plans for the future of Whitbourne CE Primary School.

As reported in Tuesday’s Worcester News, parents and staff were devastated by an announcement that dwindling pupil numbers had put the school in jeopardy.

Because of the way schools are funded, it has been predicted this will leave Whitbourne with a £35,000 shortfall in its budget for 2013/14.

However, campaigners are fighting to save the 160-year-old school and seeking alternative ways of enabling it to carry on.

Ideas put forward so far include increasing the use of volunteers and applying for it to become an academy or free school.

Anna Marshall, a member of Whitbourne’s PTFA whose two children attend the school, said the latter options would take time to investigate, but it was hoped the school could be kept open in the short-term by bridging the funding gap.

She said: “The meeting went well and we were talking over the options we have got. We will explore things – we’ve got the Facebook page and we hope to set up an e-mail through which people can contact us.

“We can meet the shortfall in the budget for the next year by raising money. One lady came up to me at the end of the meeting and pledged £1,000. I don’t think it’s impossible.

“We do realise there’s more to it than raising money. At least if the budget isn’t an issue, it will be more difficult for the council to carry on its argument based on finances.

“It would buy us more time to come up with ideas. We’ve been given something like four weeks and it’s not enough time. We’ll see what we can do.”

Another meeting is set to take place next week to allow parents, villagers and other interested parties to discuss options for the school.

Details and updates can be found on the campaign Facebook page titled Save Whitbourne CE Primary School.

A decision is set to be made on the school’s future next month.

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