Following the proposal by Leigh Academy Trust to merge Stoke Primary School and Allhallows Primary Academy, Medway Labour and Co-operative councillors are pledging to support rural communities by keeping village schools open.
Cllr Clive Johnson, Medway Labour and Co-operative Spokesperson for Children and Young People said, ‘I pay tribute to the passion and commitment that the children, the parents, and the entire community have for their local school and congratulate them on the powerful campaign that saw the reversal of the plans to merge Stoke and Allhallows.
‘It’s worrying that, despite not proceeding with the closure of Stoke Primary, Stoke pupils in Years one and two will still have to travel to Allhallows Academy for their classes for the “foreseeable future”. We must get assurances that this is not an attempt at a piecemeal closure of Stoke Primary.
‘The fact that the issue – the potential closure of Stoke Primary – has been partially resolved, at least for the moment, shouldn’t confuse the central issues.
‘Fifty per cent of Medway is rural, and a large proportion of our population lives in those areas; scattered small communities with proud histories and identities that are often older than the urbanised communities that take so much of our attention.
‘I’m the proud representative of one of those urban areas but I also come from a family with roots that go deep into a small village and I’m absolutely committed to supporting our rural communities. I do not just want rural communities to continue to exist, I want them to thrive.
‘The fact that the proposed merger was able to progress to this stage demonstrates how little strategic control Medway has over educational provision. We see services slipping away from us and control over decisions moving away from those who they affect most – in this case children and their families.’
Cllr Teresa Murray, Deputy Leader of the Medway Labour and Co-operative Group said, ‘A local school is the heart of a rural community, and it’s absolutely right that this motion gained cross party support.
‘Despite their resilience, rural towns and villages are communities that have already lost too much; GP practices, shops, post offices, pubs, community spaces, Sure Start centres, public transport – these assets are being stripped away, and with them the communities’ autonomy.
‘As local councillors we can do rural communities justice by not simply helping to retain their remaining services, but by fighting to restore the essential services that have been lost over the last decade.’
The motion reads as follows:
Councillor Pendergast submitted the following:
Following events concerning Stoke Primary School, this Council requests the Cabinet to commit to keeping rural and village schools open for the benefit of the local communities in so far as its powers allow.
Proposals by the Leigh Academy Trust to merge Stoke Primary Academy and Allhallows Primary Academy have caused concern for parents and pupils.
Medway Labour Councillors are opposing the proposals due to the negative impact the merger will have on the rural community.
'We see services slipping away from us and control over decisions moving away from those who they affect most - in this case children and their families.' Cllr Clive Johnson, Medway Labour and Co-operative Spokesperson for Children and Young People
'Despite their resilience, rural towns and villages are communities that have already lost too much; GP practices, post offices, pubs, Sure Start centres... these assets are being stripped away, and with them the communities’ autonomy' Cllr Teresa Murray, Deputy Leader of the Medway Labour and Co-operative Group