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Last Updated: Monday, 6 February 2006, 17:21 GMT
Parents fight school places plans
A protest has been held outside County Hall in Kent by parents who are worried their children's primary schools could be shut down or merged under new plans.

The county council's cabinet approved the Kent Primary Strategy on Monday. It will attempt to deal with the number of empty school places in Kent.

Dover has nearly 1,800 empty places and although nothing has been decided, school closures are feared in the area.

Kent County Council said birth rates were "tumbling faster than predicted".

There are 12,000 empty school places across Kent, each one costing the council about 250 a year.

We will fight them until the end, they will not win
Kerrie Joyce, parent

"Some difficult decisions will have to be made over the next few months," a statement said.

"Dover is the first area to be looked at by education officers as part of an extensive consultation process.

"Some possible proposals have already been discussed with local schools.

"No decisions have been made and any proposal is subject to a full public consultation."

Parents of pupils at St Radigunds and Melbourne schools were among those protesting at County Hall in Maidstone on Monday morning.

"They've picked on the wrong set of parents," said Kerrie Joyce.

"We will fight them until the end, they will not win."

Advisory board

Leyland Ridings, the council's cabinet member for education, said: "We now have to look at individual districts and schools within the framework of the Kent Primary Strategy.

"Every decision will be taken with the interests of the school, community, parents and staff in mind."

Initial proposals could now be considered by the School Organisation Advisory Board on 16 March.

Parents of children at St Joseph's Catholic Primary School, in Aylesham, plan their own protest at a meeting of the county council's Dover Local Board on Tuesday evening.


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