Keith Herbert shares this latest news on behalf of a group of parents and community members in Chillerton. In his own words, Ed
Mr Stewart is the only Isle of Wight party leader who has not opposed the closure of Chillerton and Rookley Primary School.
Asked whether he supported closure of the 170 year old rural school, Mr Stewart said,
“As council leader I always look to take an evidence based approach to decision making and will retain a neutral position until that time.”
MP against the closure
This position is in contrast to Isle of Wight MP, Bob Seely, who has formally objected to the proposed closure of Chillerton and Rookley Primary School and has been supportive of the Save Our School campaign.
Conservative education policy states that there is a presumption against the closure of rural schools.
Creation of a flexi-school
Meanwhile, interest in the creation of a flexi-school at the Chillerton and Rookley site continues to grow.
A Governing Body, which contains experienced education professionals, senior managers and community members, has been stood up to manage the transition from the Stenbury Federation.
A dedicated Facebook page now has over 150 contributors and with the support from the Elective Home Education Community. The number is expected to rise.
Guiding children through learning experience become a priority
A spokesperson for the Save our School groups said:
“Ironically this awful pandemic has given us all time to assess what’s really important and being with our children and guiding them through their learning experience has become a priority for many.
“Flexi Schooling, whilst not for everyone, gives children the chance to explore their own interests outside of the classroom.
“It also gives support to home educators who currently have little, if any, support from our government.”
Flexi-schooling a “win-win”
A parent interested in flexi-schooling added,
“This is a win-win situation. The council receives full funding for each pupil that is flexibly schooled, the arrangement is inclusive and can be combined with full-time students.
“The Island’s 464 home-educated pupils have the option of support and one of the island’s most respected and loved schools gets to remain open.”
Responses from other party leaders
Other responses from party or group leaders (in alphabetical order):
Debbie Andre, Island Independent Group, said,
“We fully support the efforts that are being made by Chillerton and Gatcombe Parish Council and local residents to establish a new governing body for the school and to promote the school in a positive light to increase the uptake of places and secure the future of the school for generations to come.”
Jonathan Bacon, Our Island, said,
“On behalf of Our Island I can indicate that we do not support the closure.”
Vix Lowthion, Green Party, said,
“Rural villages must be properly supported to be areas to thrive and attract new residents and families.
“A school, a shop and community buildings are all critical to ensuring that our rural areas do not decline and become villages of housing alone.
“Our council should be doing everything in their power to support villages such as Chillerton and Rookley, and the local primary school is the source of much of village life.”
Daryll Pitcher, Vectis Party, said,
“Chillerton and Rookley Primary School is a vital for the parents in the area and the Isle of Wight Council would damage the community by allowing it to close.”
Richard Quigley, Labour, said,
“We are definitely not in favour of the school closing.”
Nick Stuart, Lib Dem, said,
“The threat that Chillerton and Rookley Primary School could close is devastating and un-necessary.”
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