Parents vow to carry on campaign to save Eccles school after closure proposal

Eccles, Hargham and Wilby Primary school is threatened with closure. Pictured are Louise and Harry C

Eccles, Hargham and Wilby Primary school is threatened with closure. Pictured are Louise and Harry Cooke, ex pupils of the school who are campaigning to save it. - Credit: Archant Norfolk

Parents have vowed to continue their fight to save a small village primary school, despite a council's formal proposal that it will be closed.

Eccles, Hargham and Wilby Primary school is threatened with closure.

Eccles, Hargham and Wilby Primary school is threatened with closure. - Credit: Archant Norfolk

Norfolk County Council held a six-week consultation over the future of Eccles, Hargham and Wilby Primary School, which in January this year had just 27 pupils on its roll.

The campaign group Parents Against the Closure of Eccles School (PACES) was formed in response, with parents attending two public meetings to air their views before the end of the official consultation on April 4.

However, in its formal proposal, the council said: 'A continued decline in pupil numbers and changes to school funding are making it increasingly difficult to manage the budget and to bring about sustained improvement in educational outcomes for its pupils, despite the very high per pupil funding level at the school and the high teacher/pupil ratio of 1:13.'

It added that during the 2013/14 financial year, the revenue funding per pupil on roll at the school was £8,876, compared to a county average for primary pupils of £3,908.

The school had entered into partnerships with Carleton Road Primary School, in 2011, and Kenninghall Primary School, in April last year, 'in order to secure a more sustainable future', a county council consultation document said.

The proposed new catchment area for pupils living in Eccles, Hargham, Wilby and Quidenham means they would go to Kenninghall Primary School, with current pupils having to apply for places at schools elsewhere.

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Ina de Smet, of White Hart Street, East Harling – a parent who was planning to send her sons Nathan, aged five, and Ruben, three, to Eccles – said she did not feel parents' views had been taken on board.

'From our perspective it doesn't seem to make sense why it has to close,' she said.

Eccles resident Helen Keogh, whose 10-year-old son Peter transferred to the school about 18 months ago, said it had made a 'massive difference' to her son's education.

Mrs Keogh, who has led the PACES campaign group, said the school's small size had particularly helped children such as Peter, who although academically bright is on the autistic spectrum. Being in a smaller setting had helped him socially.

'We were quite dismayed,' said Mrs Keogh on hearing the school might close. 'It is quite a shame that they're looking at closing it at a time when what autistic children need is becoming quite a public issue.'

And Jenni Cooke's daughter Louise, now 14, became 'a lot more confident a child' when she moved to Eccles, Hargham and Wilby.

'I think it's a really poor decision,' said Mrs Cooke, who lives in Old Buckenham. 'It's a really briliant school with a friendly atmosphere.'

People have until next Friday to object or make comments to the proposal by writing to: School Organisation Team, Room 22, County Hall, Martineau Lane, Norwich NR1 2DL or email

A petition against the school closure is available at and has been signed by 267 people.

What do you think about the proposed closure? Contact EDP reporter Andrew Papworth on 01379 651153 or email