Parish council seeks assurances over proposed closure of village school near Milton Keynes

A parish council is seeking assurances that there will be a “meaningful consultation” before a village school with no pupils or staff is finally closed.

The now empty Emberton School is considered “no longer viable” by Milton Keynes Council which is set to press the start button on a five-stage closure process next Tuesday (May 28).

Emberton School

Emberton School

But Emberton Parish Council is “disappointed in the proposed closure of the village school.”

Karen Goss, the council clerk said: “Emberton Parish Council is proud to represent a parish with a very strong sense of community spirit and is very disappointed in the proposed closure of the village school which has successfully served the local community for many years.”

The council is seeking clarification from Milton Keynes Council “as to why parents were not given Emberton School as an option in May 2018 for 2019 admission for new and existing pupils of the school.”

The clerk adds: “The parish council is therefore seeking assurances that there shall be a meaningful consultation going forward.”

Emberton Parish Council is further requesting that the demographics are reassessed to take into account the increased planned development within the Olney ward.

Simon Sims, the council’s strategic lead, sufficiency and access, says in a report to Cllr Zoe Nolan, the cabinet member for children and families, that there are spare school places locally.

He says: “Due to falling birth rates locally, surplus primary school places are expected to continue. The school, as an organisation, is no-longer viable, so the governing board have asked Milton Keynes Council to consult on closing the school.”

Emberton School is a community infant school with an admission number of 12 in each of its three year groups. It has a catchment area of Emberton, Filgrave, Petsoe and Tyringham but despite the best efforts of staff, parents have chosen to send their children elsewhere.

All the staff have either left the school or moved to other schools in the Village Schools Federation, the council has been told. The federation consists of Emberton School, Newton Blossomville C of E School, North Crawley C of E School, Sherington C of E School, Stoke Goldington C of E First School and St Andrew’s C of E School.

A pre-publication consultation was held between January 21 and March 17, to which 10 people responded, and six were in favour of the closure.

While the school remains open, the council has to pay building running costs.

Cllr Nolan will be using powers delegated to her by the council to decide at an open meeting on Tuesday (May 28) whether to publish a statutory notice and propose to close the school.