Children at Maiden Beech Academy in Crewkerne have joined a local campaign to save schools in the Crewkerne and Ilminster area from ‘enforced’ changes by Somerset County Council. The pupils arrived at the school in Lyme Road with banners and posters, following the decision by Cabinet members at SCC, at a virtual meeting on March 17th, to proceed with controversial plans to change the local education system from three tiers to two tiers.
The strongly contested changes, will see the status of middle schools abolished with Maiden Beech Academy becoming a primary school, Swanmead Community School in Ilminster amalgamating with Greenfylde First School to become a primary school over two sites, the closure of Misterton First School and Wadham School becoming the only secondary school in the Crewkerne and Ilminster area.
Despite over two thirds of respondents objecting to these plans in public consultations and strong objections raised with the county council before and during the cabinet meeting by teachers, parents and local councillors – Somerset County Council are proceeding against the wishes of the majority of the electorate in the Crewkerne and Ilminster area and have so far refused to fully consider alternative proposals put forward, which include a Multi-Academy Trust, linking Maiden Beech Academy, Swanmead Community School and Wadham School. Furthermore it has been noted that the county councillors who were eligible to vote at last week’s Cabinet meeting do not represent any of the Wards in either of the two affected South Somerset towns or neighbouring villages.
Posters campaigning to ‘Save Our Schools’ are also being displayed in many shop windows and at business premises across Crewkerne and in Ilminster. A Facebook group page, Protect Crewkerne/Ilminster District Education System has been set up by Holly Phillips. It is regularly updated and links to a www.gofundme.com page to raise at least £5,000 towards legal fees, to fight the county council’s decision. Somerset County Council are already facing a legal challenge on their decision to close Misterton First School.
Those who are opposing Somerset County Council’s education system changes say that they are “considering students first and foremost and how changes will impact on them in all forms, educationally, mentally and socially. Their well-being is paramount and that’s why we need to keep fighting this.” (Our feature photo was provided by Bob Knott of BKreative).