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Sunday, 26 October 2014

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Captain Shaw's School saved from closure

Cumbria's smallest school has been given a reprieve from closure.

Captain Shaw
Captain Shaw's School

Cumbria County Council had proposed closing Captain Shaw’s School at Bootle, near Millom, which has only 17 pupils, but after a vigorous campaign by villagers, the council’s cabinet agreed today that it should remain open.

Campaigners had asked for the time to allow the school to apply for academy status.

With the threat of closure now lifted, cabinet urged the school and its supporters to act quickly to improve its performance.

It was felt that parents, school governors and the wider community, who had all expressed strong support for the school, should be given a further opportunity to make it work.

However, cabinet said that arguments against closure made during the consultation period must be followed up with concrete action.

The meeting noted that there were concerns about the standard of education on offer but by removing the uncertainty about the school’s future, it was hoped it will be able to recruit permanent staff which will help drive up standards.

The potential for new housing development in the area, potentially increasing the school roll, was also a factor in the decision.

Anne Burns, cabinet member for Children’s Social Care, said the decision had been taken "following prolonged and careful consideration."

And she added: "The school and the local community have mounted a compelling campaign to keep the school open. But it is now absolutely up to them to put plans into action to address all the concerns that have been highlighted during this process.

"Cabinet will be keeping a close watch over the coming months and will want to see clear evidence of improvement in educational standards and the school’s finances. This is an opportunity for the whole community to come together to think innovatively about the school’s future.”

Council leader Eddie Martin said they wanted to send a clear message to small schools in Cumbria that their role in sustaining communities was valued.

"We’re also clear that each case must be looked at on its merits. Captain Shaw’s school must justify the faith that cabinet has shown in it," he added.

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