Council defends decision to close Dunswell Primary School as parents protest
UNDER-FIRE council officials have defended moves to close Dunswell Primary School, as angry parents were taking to the streets to protest today.
East Riding Council has revealed Dunswell Primary, which has been told to improve by Ofsted, is set to lose its headteacher.
It has emerged headteacher Paul Johnston handed in his notice weeks after the watchdog ruled the primary must improve.
Alison Michalska, director of children, families and adult services at the council, said: "This school has been identified by Ofsted as requiring improvement and will not have a permanent headteacher after Paul Johnston handed in his notice in November.
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"The recent Ofsted inspection raised concerns about the performance of the school, especially the lack of progress that children made in the school after Key Stage 1, placing its performance in the lowest 20 per cent of primary schools nationally.
"The imminent retirement of the head teacher, following his resignation in November and the development of the neighbouring Kingswood Parks Primary contribute to making this an appropriate time to consider the school's future."
The council is also looking at closing Gembling and Langtoft primaries, as purse strings tighten under a new national funding regime.
Mrs Michalska said: "As a local authority we have a statutory duty to plan school places and ensure the limited resources we have are used as effectively as possible.
"To achieve this we need to have the right balance between the need for and supply of school places.
"The more schools we have, the less funding each school gets to spend on educating children, as a greater proportion of the available school funding has to be spent on running and maintenance costs."
Seventy five per cent of Dunswell's 88 pupils come from outside its catchment area, including from Hull.
Mrs Michalska said: "In the case of Dunswell School, the children in the school catchment area can all be easily accommodated in Woodmansey School.
"For most children in Dunswell's catchment area, Woodmansey School is less than two miles away.
"We also have to take into account the nature of the school site, which is sadly very limited and there are no viable or appropriate alternative options to improve the school facilities."
About 150 parents and pupils were preparing to march through Beverley today to protest against plans to close Dunswell in July, 2014.
More than 3,000 people have backed a protest petition, to be handed in at County Hall today.
Parent Julie Reed accused the council of making excuses to close Dunswell Primary School.
She said: "We don't want to comment on the head's situation.
"We support him and respect him in everything he has done for us.
"Schools have staffing problems and staffing changes all the time so this is just another excuse from the council.
"The Ofsted report is just a snapshot in time. This is a viable school and we are still oversubscribed."