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Matt Hancock opposes Department for Education over Beck Row Academy closure

Matt Hancock has opposed a proposal put forward by his own government to close Beck Row Academy.

The Department for Education is in early talks with the primary school's managing body, the Academy Transformation Trust, which could see it merge with Great Heath Academy in Mildenhall.

Mr Hancock, the Tory MP for West Suffolk, has backed parents - who have signed a petition for the village's only school to remain open.

Matt Hancock on a visit to a school
Matt Hancock on a visit to a school

“I am completely opposed to the wrong-headed proposal to relocate Beck Row Academy to Great Heath Academy in Mildenhall," said Mr Hancock.

"We should be doing everything possible to retain our wonderful tradition of village schools, not closing them without justification. These plans should be halted immediately, and if not I will do everything in my power to stop the closure.”

The Department for Education-run property firm LocatED is preparing a ‘pilot scheme’ that could see up to 20 UK school sites modified to free up land for thousands of homes.

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.”

A spokesperson for the school said: “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 including Mr Hancock as the MP, 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. Our overarching priority in any decision the trust takes is that it is in the best interests of the children we serve.”

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