Set to be sad new year for village near Milton Keynes as school closure decision is made

A village school with no pupils left will be closed on New Year’s Day 2020, a councillor has decided.

Objectors to closure of Emberton School claimed that a decision to padlock the premises had been made long before the consultation started, an allegation that was denied on Tuesday (November 12).

Emberton School

Emberton School

Cllr Zoe Nolan (Lab, Loughton & Shenley), MK Council’s schools’ supremo, told a delegated decisions meeting that there were fewer babies being born in the villages, and parents were choosing other schools.

But Cllr Victoria McLean, who chairs Emberton Parish Council, told MK Council in a statement read out that “the decision was made long before the consultation period” and responses “counted for nothing”.

Her husband, Cllr Keith McLean (Cons, Olney) added: “I feel the governors decided very early on to close it. I don’t feel it has been either transparent or positive for the community of Emberton.”

But Cllr Nolan said: “We have tried to be as open and transparent as possible, we have tried to sustain the school.

“The birth rate has fallen, and even if every child had gone, there would only be nine eligible pupils. Parents have taken a different view of the school and it is up to them to do that.

“We had not already taken the decision,” she said.

The council had to follow a five-stage consultation before making a decision.

Noel Sibbald, the chair of governors at the Village Schools Federation which runs the school, said the organisation would hold money from the school in its accounts. “There is a huge weight on our shoulders. We will be reaching out to the Emberton community to get their involvement,” he said.

Delegated decisions are formally confirmed on a Friday, which then triggers a call-in process. Under the council’s rules a request to call in a decision can be made by two MK councillors, the chair or clerk of a parish council, or signed by 20 residents.