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Battling head's primary ordered to close

A primary school credited with breathing new life into a struggling pit village is to be closed after its headteacher was forced out.

The TES reported last month how Bill Ball, head of Manton Primary at Worksop, Nottinghamshire, had been pressured into resigning from the 264-pupil school for failing to improve grades fast enough.

Richard Lilley, head of Ryton Park Primary, a more successful school a little over a mile away, has been made head of both schools.

Ryton will officially take over Manton Primary in December, when its name changes. Then, between next year and 2011, its site will be closed and the merged schools will move to a new location.

Mr Ball had been singled out for praise by Steve Munby, chief executive of the National College of School Leadership, for his work in improving morale at the school and in the wider community. Ofsted labelled his leadership as excellent.

Mr Ball revived the local Miners' Gala and opened the school to provide IT and literacy assistance to pupils' families. "If you can't fix the community, you'll never fix the school," he told The TES last year. The school was at the bottom of national league tables when Mr Ball took over six years ago. Its key stage two scores have since doubled.

But last year's results were the sixth worst in the country. An Ofsted report, based on an inspection in January, will place the school in special measures.

Details of the "severely critical" inspection report are revealed in a council document obtained by The TES. It also states that the council had considered keeping Manton open, possibly in federation with Ryton Park or another school, but that the Department for Children, Schools and Families urged closure.

Around 150 Manton parents signed a petition saying the community will lose its identity when it loses its school.

Mick Brookes, general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers, said heads and schools were increasingly vulnerable to one poor set of test scores.

Mr Ball, who left Manton in January, said he hoped the amalgamation would improve pupils' education. "I have only ever wanted the best possible future for our pupils and their families," he said.

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