All Isle of Wight party leaders oppose village school closure, except one

Leaders of all political parties on the Isle of Wight have openly opposed the closure of Chillerton and Rookley School, apart from Dave Stewart of the Conservatives

Chillerton and Rookley Primary School

Keith Herbert shares this latest news on behalf of a group of parents and community members in Chillerton. In his own words, Ed

Pressure is mounting on Conservative leader Dave Stewart to share his stance on the closure of rural schools ahead of next month’s elections

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.”

Find out more
More information can be found by searching Isle Of Wight Flexi-Schooling on Facebook or by filling in the survey.

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.”

Image: © Google Maps/Streetview

Monday, 19th April, 2021 8:23am



Filed under: Chillerton, Education, Isle of Wight Council, Top story, Youth

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4 Comments on "All Isle of Wight party leaders oppose village school closure, except one"

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Steve Goodman
Unfortunately for Islanders, the evidence of Dave stewart’s record of his ‘evidence-based’ costly decisions include his contradictory approach to Covid period festivals and road racing, wasting millions to interfere with the previously perfectly useful St Mary’s roundabout while ignoring the many requests to improve genuinely problematic places, and being far too relaxed about the years of farcical financial black hole floating bridge failure ‘because some people still… Read more »
Geoff Brodie

Just to observe that the ‘Island Independents’ aren’t a registered party, whilst the ‘Island Independent Network’ who are a registered party (just like ‘Our Island’) have been omitted by this campaign. Its all very ‘Life of Brian’! I have nothing to do with any of them, but as a real independent candidate I too oppose this closure and have advised them as such when they contacted me.


“As council leader I always look to take an evidence based approach to decision making and will retain a neutral position until that time.” the words of Dave Stewart. Practice what you preach more then the Island wouldn’t be in the state it is and you need to question the “evidence” more deeply than has been by the Conservative run Council in all aspects.


As with the closure of Yarmouth School I fear it’s a waste of time. The majority of the community were against it, but the strongly backed campaign failed. The Green Party weren’t fighting to save Yarmouth School, but agreed with the council.