A statement from the Diocese of Guildford on Councillor David Hodge’s decision to close Ripley Church of England Primary School.
Diocesan Director of Education, Alex Tear said:
“The Diocesan Board of Education recognises that the decision to close Ripley Church of England Primary School is a painful experience for the pupils, parents and local community of Ripley who care deeply about the future of the school.
“The diocese acknowledges that the decision to close the school will be very disappointing and upsetting for all those who have been involved with the school both past and present and it shares the deep sense of loss at this outcome. The decision to close the school is not a reflection on the work of the children or staff at the school who have worked hard despite the challenging circumstances the school has experienced.
“The decision to close the school comes at the end of a long process of both formal and informal consultation led by the Local Authority where the different options under the current legal framework have been considered very carefully by the Cabinet Member for Education, Mary Lewis and Council Leader, David Hodge.
“The decision to close a school is never taken lightly and only after considerable time, effort and resources have been spent on trying to turn the school around over a number of years. Closure of a school is always the last resort and never an easy decision.
“The circumstances leading to the school’s closure are complex and there are a number of different factors which have contributed to the school’s current unviable position including the decline in standards in the school, the significant reduction in the number of pupils attending the school and the unsustainable financial position of the school.
“With only 28 children attending the school and 182 school places remaining vacant, it is now extremely difficult to meet the educational needs of the children and deliver the curriculum entitlement for pupils in the school.
“In this situation, ensuring the quality of education that pupils receive must be our priority. The children deserve the very best education and care which can be provided and the quality of teaching and learning for children should always come first.
“Sadly, it is no longer possible to ensure that the children attending the school are receiving the education they deserve despite the efforts of all stakeholders to keep the school open.
“The Diocesan Board of Education remains committed to small and rural schools and is increasing its capacity to support our Church schools to ensure that wherever possible, they offer the high quality education and inclusive Christian ethos which is a core part of our mission to the communities we serve.”