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Last Updated: Friday, 15 September 2006, 18:39 GMT 19:39 UK
Two more schools avoid being shut
Ann Kemp, chair of Trottiscliffe Parish Council, signing a T-shirt worn by parent Robin Lee
Parent Robin Lee ran in a mountain race to support Trottiscliffe School
Two more Kent primary schools have been saved from closure and a proposed merger will also not now go ahead.

The county council said it was shelving plans to shut Selsted Primary, in Shepway, and Trottiscliffe CE School, in the Tonbridge and Malling district.

The planned merger of Morehall and Harcourt primaries, also in the Shepway area, was halted by the council.

Out of 12 closures aimed at cutting the financial cost of empty desks, seven schools have now been reprieved.

The county council's Primary Strategy was drawn up to reduce the 14,200 empty primary school places in Kent, which were seeing millions of pounds going to waste each year.

The majority of the proposals drew angry responses from staff and parents, who made their voices heard through consultation processes and meetings.

Seven schools saved from closure
One merger cancelled
Three schools under threat of possible closure
Plans for six amalgamations being progressed
Decisions pending on three more closures and five mergers

John Simmonds, cabinet member for education and school improvement, said Trottiscliffe Primary School had been saved from closure due to "enormous improvements" made recently.

"I was also very impressed with the overwhelming support from the community who obviously value their village school immensely, which is crucial to any school's success," he said.

Selsted Primary School will be getting a "programme of support" to ensure it can succeed now it is being kept open.

"Without improvement it is unlikely the school would attract sufficient pupils to make it financially viable in the longer term," Mr Simmonds warned.

Regarding Morehall and Harcourt schools, he said it was "not appropriate to interrupt [recent] good work with the additional burden of a merger".

More funding

Decisions regarding further closures or mergers in Dover, Maidstone, Swale and Tunbridge Wells are still to be taken.

Mr Simmonds said there had so far been more than 30 public meetings for the primary strategy, with each costing about 350.

He added that money saved from reducing the number of surplus places, and selling or finding a different use for school sites, would be put back into education.

Nursery, vocational and special needs education headed the list for areas most in need of funding, he said.


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