Letter: Closure of village schools in Warwickshire

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The Independent Online
Sir: Fran Abrams manages to combine a disregard of due process in local government with an attack on a chief education officer. The choice of a headline ('Class warfare') for her article was also mischievous in a situation that is serious and complex for everyone in this county, whether politician, parent, governor or teacher. Each of us is trying to work towards a reorganised school system that will benefit children.

For the record, the proposals are those of the county council and they have been developed and agreed with both Church of England and Roman Catholic authorities. Margaret Maden did not 'dream up a plan', although she and a team of hard-working officers put forward much analysis and evidence to support a range of options that elected members then either accepted or changed.

The rural dimension is given an unfair and unwarranted amount of attention in your article. Over three quarters of our proposed changes affect schools in towns. The vast majority of the 64 closures or mergers referred to by your correspondent as 'rural' are actually urban. In fact, we want to expand 17 rural schools, as against 12 which we suggest should be closed (and, except for one of these, each would be merged with a nearby partner school).

Many parents are pleased that more village schools should now be able to educate their children from age four through to age 11 rather than, as now, only through to age eight.

Finally, none of this is as revolutionary as your correspondent suggests. In the 20 years of Conservative administration that preceded Warwickshire's current political leadership, more than 40 village primary schools were closed. Most of those also required - and received - the full co-operation of the Church of England diocesan authority.

Yours faithfully IAN BOTTRILL Leader Warwickshire County Council JOHN EARDLEY Director of Education Coventry Diocesan Board of Education Warwick 27 October

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