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Rural life will suffer as schools are closed;Letter

THE 1990 Audit Commission report, Rationalising primary school provision, in whose name village schools are now threatened, states unequivocally:

"The bulk of spare capacity is found in urban areas."

Local authorities closing village schools choose to ignore this, as they ignore this statement from the Office for Standards in Education: "A good case emerges for the place of small schools in the provision of national education as a whole when the quality of their educational performance is added to the broader contribution they make to their communities."

This has long been known to researchers and long ignored by those eager to close small schools, who in their ignorance tell parents their children will be better off elsewhere. Parents know better.

The Department for Education and Employment circular 11098, stated unequivocally it would not tolerate "wholesale closure". This is precisely what arises from the "review and rationalise" exercises now flooding England and Wales in a desperate attempt to clear the decks before the dramatic truth of the high effectiveness of small schools is picked up by politicians.

If they succeed, the DFEE will not be reporting next year that there are fewer small schools than ever, but dramatically fewer.

If Pembrokeshire can set its face against any school with 57 or fewer pupils, the domino effect will be awesome. The fabric of rural society is under threat as never before from these mindless, cruel statistical games. They are impervious to the anguish within affected local communities and the general impoverishment that the loss of a school usually means.

Mervyn Benford

National Association for Small Schools

Cloudshill

High Street

Shutford

Banbury, Oxfordshire

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