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Wednesday, 12 July, 2000, 16:22 GMT 17:22 UK
Time called on smallest school
Caldey Island
The monastery is the island's main attraction
The smallest school in Wales will close its gates for the last time this month after it was left with just one pupil.

The primary school on Caldey Island, off the Pembrokeshire coast, will be closed down next week after 100 years.

Three pupils are off to start at high schools on the mainland next term leaving Jonathan Miller, aged eight, as the last pupil.



There will be a few tears shed when the bell goes for the last time

Headteacher Frances Allen
The island is not expecting a baby boom, as its main inhabitants are 15 monks in their monastery retreat.

Caldey - a 30-minute boat trip from the resort of Tenby - also has a post office and a small farm.

Headteacher Frances Allen said: "It is a very sad day for the island.

"There has been a school on Caldey for more than 100 years and it has many memories for people who were educated here.

"There will be a few tears shed when the bell goes for the last time."

Mrs Allen's own children Kirsten, 11, and Thomas, 10, are two of the last pupils and the family has decided to move to the mainland for them to complete their education.

'Very special'

Pupils Victoria Purchase, 11, and Jonathan will board in Tenby returning to the island at weekends, weather permitting.

The last four pupils have spent the summer term on a project recording the school's history, which at its peak had 11 pupils.

The school will shut its doors on Thursday, 20 July, with the pupils treated to a day out at Oakwood Park on the Friday.

Mrs Allen, 36, said: "Living on the island is very special for children and the school is the hub of the community."

Caldey - population 55 - has had its own school for more than 100 years but has closed down at various times in the past when numbers have dwindled.

'Wonderful school'

The current school was opened 18 years ago when the former Dyfed County Council decided there were enough children on the island to make it viable.

A wooden built tearoom for tourists was converted into a single classroom.

The school's founder, Father Stephen said: "It has been a wonderful school over the years and has given the island's children a good grounding."

The islanders have yet to decide what to do with the school building.

Caldey relies on summer tourists visiting the Cistercian monastery where the monks make chocolate and perfume.

Islanders are trying to turn the closure into a happy occasion by holding a reunion for past pupils at the weekend.

A spokesman for Pembrokeshire County Council said: "It's a sad day but with just one pupil the school could not carry on."

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