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Campaigners threaten legal challenge over plan to move primary school to new site

A campaign group has threatened the governing body of a school on the Isle of Wight with a judicial review challenge in a dispute over reorganisation.

The Keep Yarmouth School in Yarmouth campaign objects to a plan to move the school into a building in Freshwater at present used by another school.

Its page has attracted support from 561 people and described Yarmouth as “a school which achieves great results from Ofsted, and is an integral part of the community and heritage of Yarmouth”.

A solicitor’s letter sent to the governing body and linked from the group’s Facebook page to the County Press newspaper said the consultation on the proposals was legally flawed because governors had predetermined their view by deciding to close the school before asking for public views.

Isle of Wight Council’s cabinet is due next week to debate a proposal to close All Saints’ Primary School in Freshwater from next August to protect “the future viability of the remaining four schools in the West Wight amid falling pupil numbers”.

It said any closure of All Saints would be “subject to the governing body of Yarmouth Primary School taking a decision to relocate their school to the vacant All Saints’ site for the start of the academic year 2021-22”.

Paul Brading, cabinet member for children’s services, said: “No recommendation to close a school is taken lightly but the council must look to the needs of the West Wight’s children, not only now, but also long into the future in coming to its final decision about how to address the oversupply of places.

“Five primary schools in the West Wight cannot be sustained - forecast numbers make that very clear.”

The council said having one less primary school in the West Wight would make the remaining four more financially sustainable since they are largely funded on a per pupil basis.

Mark Smulian