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Surrey school closes after more than 175 years

4 minute read
Surrey school closes after more than 175 years

Published at 6:00am 31st August 2018. (Updated at 11:54am 31st August 2018)

As pupils and parents across Surrey and Hampshire prepare for 'back to School' next week, Ripley C of E Primary School officially shuts its doors.

The school received an 'inadequate' Ofsted rating in May last year, prompting Surrey County Council to launch a consultation to close it.

Despite campaigners fighting to keep it open, councillors made the final decision to close the school last month, describing it as "unviable" - something which those trying to save the school blame on the council.

As of today Ripley C of E is "discontinued" and will no longer teach students, having done so for more than 175 years to this point.

Rev'd Christopher Elson, Vicar of Ripley, said: "There are many people in Ripley, and I include myself in this, who have shed many tears over what has been done to us; we also feel very angry at the way in which this devastating decision has been achieved."

"Even as the last children were leaving the school on the last day, the authorities were stripping the assets from the buildings."

Ripley C of E Primary School
Having opened in 1840, Ripley C of E has closed its doors for the last time.

Rev'd Elson added: "We expect that their next move will be to try to sell the land which would no doubt have a high value for housing development.

"We are all wondering where the children from this and other housing developments (already planned) in Ripley will go to school. While it is probably fair to say that the community has been reeling at what has happened I think it is also true that the community spirit will, in the end, overcome what has been done to us.

"Elements of the process are being referred for Judicial Review and I believe that in the end the need for a school here will be recognised by the authorities in County and Diocese."

On issuing the statutory notice of the school's closure, the council said all 29 of the 38 students needing primary places this September would be offered one at a local alternative, with those eligible being provided free transport.

Ripley C of E Primary School
Nearly 2,000 people signed a petition in the hope of keeping the school open.

Following the decision Alex Tear, Director of Education for the Diocese of Guildford, which controlled the school alongside the council, said: “The decision to close a school is never taken lightly and only after considerable time, effort and resources have been spent on trying to turn the school around over a number of years.

“The circumstances leading to the school’s closure are complex and there are a number of different factors which have contributed to the school’s current unviable position including the decline in standards in the school, the significant reduction in the number of pupils attending the school and the unsustainable financial position of the school."

However the Friends of Ripley C of E Primary School campaign group said: "We were given an 'Inadequate' rating from Ofsted on the grounds of "Effectiveness of leadership and management" after Surrey County Council left us without a permanent head teacher for 2 years. 

"Surrey County Council belatedly gave us a new dynamic head teacher who is improving standards but only after we received the Ofsted rating of 'inadequate'.

"Now the County Council says that legislation prevents them from giving us enough time to improve. Our lack of numbers comes from the fact that, either intentionally or otherwise, Surrey County Council scared parents into leaving."

Ripley C of E Primary School

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