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Future of Great Gidding CofE primary school to be considered

10 January 2023

Councillors are being asked to give the go-ahead to a consultation process which will determine the future of one of Cambridgeshire’s oldest but now smallest schools.

Following a long and successful journey as a church school, local demographic trends have meant that in the past 10 years the number of pupils at Great Gidding CofE Primary School has fallen from 75 to 47, 35 of whom come from outside the school’s mainly rural catchment area. This pattern is projected to continue, with the total number of pupils on roll likely to fall below 40 by September 2024.

Given that the funding received by an individual maintained school is predominantly determined by school size, the Council believes it is shortly going to become too difficult to continue sustaining the school’s good educational standards, given the funding that will be available.

Cambridgeshire County Council’s Children and Young People Committee is therefore being asked at its meeting on January 17 to agree to the start of a consultation period which will seek views on the potential closure of the school, and the redeployment of pupils to other suitable local schools.

If agreed, a wide range of interested parties – including parents and the wider community – will be asked their views before a decision on the next steps is taken.

The consultation will also include details of the other C of E and community schools at which pupils at Gt Gidding Primary School would be offered places, including arrangements for pupils who receive educational provision recognised by the local authority as reserved for children with special educational needs, the impact on the community and on travel.

Cllr Bryony Goodliffe, Chair of the Children and Young People Committee said: “This is a very important decision, which will start the process to determine the future of Great Gidding CofE Primary School. Officers are of the view that the school is not currently viable in the coming years, so we need to consult on its future. Educational provision and outcomes for children must always be our foremost priority. However, it is important that we seek the views of the wider community before coming to any final decision, so we are asking committee to start the consultation process when it meets on January 17.”

Andrew Read, Director of Education for Ely Diocese added: “It is always difficult to contemplate the uncertain future of schools which have been, and remain, centres of their rural communities. However, in the uncompromising face of challenging funding conditions, we must be pragmatic and put children’s educational needs first. We thus continue to work in supportive partnership with the local authority in this important

consultation with the community, not least for the sake of ensuring long term community access to sustainable, high quality, inclusive school places - whether in the village, or if necessary in alternative similar proximal schools.”