Village schools open for business, says group of 12 Uttlesford headteachers in open letter

PUBLISHED: 08:17 04 December 2014

From left, headteachers Sue Giles, Henham and Ugley Primary School, Peter Randall, Manuden Primary School, Gillian Napier, Federation of Farnham and Rickling Primary Schools, Garry Brown, Ashdon Primary School, Christine Spain, Wimbish Primary School, Julie Gibbons, Debden Primary School, Kate Hockley, Radwinter Primary School.

From left, headteachers Sue Giles, Henham and Ugley Primary School, Peter Randall, Manuden Primary School, Gillian Napier, Federation of Farnham and Rickling Primary Schools, Garry Brown, Ashdon Primary School, Christine Spain, Wimbish Primary School, Julie Gibbons, Debden Primary School, Kate Hockley, Radwinter Primary School.

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Headteachers of village primary schools across Uttlesford are urging parents to consider them for school places “whatever the headlines”.

In an open letter responding to negative press on primary education, 12 headteachers are telling parents to use their “superb range of resources” and “good staff pupil ratio”.

“In Essex we are fortunate enough to have a variety of effective, creative, forward thinking small village schools within a short drive of Saffron Walden,” reads the letter, spearheaded by Christine Spain of Wimbish Primary and signed by primary schools including Newport, Wimbish, Radwinter, Thaxted and Elsenham.

“These learning communities could be just what parents are looking for, and you do not have to be in catchment to attend these schools.”

The letter comes amid concern from parents that growing demand for school places is not being met in the town. Land for a primary school has been set aside as part of the 200-home Manor Oak scheme on Radwinter Road, but this will be not be ready for another five years.

Independent county councillor for Saffron Walden John Lodge said: “We are fortunate the village schools have places, but there may be parents who find it very difficult to drive from Saffron Walden to school, and it may interfere with their work.”

Cllr Ray Gooding, Essex County Council’s cabinet member for education, said: “I wish to give my assurances to parents currently going through the admissions process that there are sufficient places in Essex schools and that no child will find themselves without a school place in September.”

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