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Parents campaign to break GM duck

Parents in a Suffolk village want to set up the first grant-maintained school in the county by taking over a former high school.

They hope to establish a middle school in the building shut by the council four years ago - and stop their children being bussed nine miles away.

The move, initiated by John Bennett who has two children aged 10 and seven, has won pledges of financial support from parents in Reydon and Southwold. Mr Bennett already has the names of 160 children whose parents are interested in sending them to the school which would be housed in the former Reydon high building.

The parents want to take advantage of the Government's self-help scheme to establish GM schools under which they would have to find only 15 per cent of costs while the Department for Education provided the rest.

Currently, the county council uses part of the school for community activities.

The parents estimate that the capital cost of taking over the building would be Pounds 300,000, meaning that they would have to raise Pounds 45,000. They anticipate it would be a two-form entry middle school with 160 to 240 children initially.

"There was an extraordinary protest to stop the school closing four years ago," said Mr Bennett. "We don't think it is right to bus nine-year-old children nine miles to schools which are very big and impersonal. We think small schools are very advantageous and this would provide a focus for the village."

A spokesman for the county council said the original closure of Reydon high and subsequent expansion of the middle school village children now attend had been approved by the DFE.

* The Norfolk school which has a member of the Funding Agency for Schools as chair of governors has rejected grant-maintained status.

Edmund De Moundeford School, whose chair of governors is Peter Turner, voted 202 to 47 against opting out. There was an 80 per cent turn-out of parents.

Interest in opting out has been minimal this term, according to Local Schools Information. There were just 32 ballots - a record low - with more than half rejecting GMS - an all-time high.

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