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Last Updated: Thursday, 24 January 2008, 21:03 GMT
Covenant hope for at risk school
A primary school is hoping a historical document will safeguard its future.

Welshampton Church of England School, near Ellesmere in Shropshire, is one of 22 earmarked for closure by the county council as part of money-saving plans.

But governor Suzi Vernon said a covenant dating back to 1849 states the land the school is built on can only be used for educational purposes.

They have asked a solicitor to confirm whether the document, from a well known local family, is legally binding.

Most of schools under threat are small village schools with fewer than 90 pupils. Sixteen others are recommended to merge.

We are getting it checked with a solicitor first but this could be the key
Suzi Vernon, school governor

Council leaders said radical change was needed because of declining pupil numbers and money pressures.

More than 1,300 pupils could now face much longer journeys to school under the plans.

Mrs Vernon said the Mannering family, who reside in Ellesmere, were behind the covenant.

"Their intention was to give the land to the people," she said.

'Sustainable schools network'

"We have no reason to assume it's not legally binding.

"It also says if schools should be closed that the gift of land goes back to the Mannerings.

"We are getting it checked with a solicitor first but this could be the key."

Norry Porter, from Shropshire County Council said there were several issues to look at.

"We've taken the decision based on a series of factors... which are about creating a sustainable network of schools.

"Its location on a busy road is one of the problems with the site and even if we built new school buildings on the site it would be difficult to continue the school there."

VIDEO AND AUDIO NEWS
'It could be the key'



SEE ALSO
Closure threat schools revealed
23 Jan 08 |  Shropshire
Unions reaction to school plans
24 Jan 08 |  Shropshire

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