Beck Row Primary Academy: Closure rumour sparks petition among parents
More than 500 have signed a petition to save Beck Row's only primary school after reports emerged that it would be closing.
Leaked proposals suggest the school, which has 200 pupils, could merge with its sister academy Great Heath, in Mildenhall, around three miles away. It has been reported the merger would see land converted at the Beck Row site for housing.
It is understood the school’s managing body, the Academy Transformation Trust - a national conglomerate, is in early discussions with the Department for Education.
A petition called ‘Save Beck Row Primary Academy’ was started by villager Sarah Mower and, at the time of writing, had attracted more than 500 signatures.
She wrote on Facebook: “As the school is one of the few resources Beck Row has and with the growing number of houses being built, please support us in raising concerns and objections to this plan.”
How the proposal was uncovered
Suggestions of the merger were raised this week at a conference for LocatEd, a government-owned property company that buys and sells sites to create school spaces. LocatEd was presenting a ‘pilot project’ which they said could see housing built on 20 school sites across England. Beck Row was not named. But a picture on the presentation showed two schools flanking Mildenhall RAF airbase. The Department for Education has stated this is 'not a confirmed scheme'.
It is understood the Great Heath site would be expanded. No details about how many pupils it could accommodate or how staff could be affected.
A Department for Education spokesperson said: “The pilot scheme identifies opportunities for schools that have surplus land to rebuild or improve education facilities with significant condition issues.
“It will focus on areas of England which have a high housing need to explore if the surplus land can be released to contribute to the cross-government Public Land for Housing Programme.
“How individual projects will be delivered will be specific to the site. This work is still in its early stages, every potential site has a number of options being explored and none are yet confirmed. The decision on how to proceed will always be the school and landowners choice.”
The Academy Transformation Trust and Steven Vincent, ‘executive principal’ for Beck Row and Great Heath, have been approached for comment.
A spokesperson for the school said: “Our overarching priority is always what is best for the children we serve. We are at a very early stage of considering our future plans, but before any decision is taken we are absolutely committed to an extensive consultation with our valued school community, the local community, and the Local Authority, in order to take all views into account.
“We will be working closely with all of these groups and will keep them regularly updated as we progress.”
To see the petition, click here.