When closure is the best option

WE cannot let the comments of your correspondent from Hope under Dinmore primary school, Herefordshire, on the National Association of Head Teachers' stance on small schools ("Union at odds with its members,") TES, May 17) pass without response. His assertion with regard to our policy on the closure of small schools is very wide of the mark.

Herefordshire has a large number of small schools, and most of the authority's NAHT members work in such schools and are well represented within the local executive.

The local education authority has a policy of supporting such schools which the local branch of NAHT fully endorses.

The particular school in question, however, has for many years recorded extremely low numbers, and been the subject of several reviews. Other schools are to be found close by.

There does come a time when individual circumstances have to be weighed against the needs of all, particularly in an era of constrained budgets, redundancies in larger schools, and a limited overall Standard Spending Assessment which the authority attempts to apportion fairly, with increasing difficulty.

It was against this background that the matter was discussed by the local executive of NAHT. A decision was taken, following careful consideration of all the factors to support the LEA. The executive felt that, on balance, the financial needs of the overall school community (including 51 schools containing 150 or fewer pupils, 16 schools containing 70 or fewer pupils) were of paramount importance.

We appreciate your correspondent's concern for his school, but he should appreciate that we have to consider the overall picture.

Ian Foster National council member for Herefordshire Sue Sayles National president David Hart General secretary, National Association of Headteachers Haywards Heath, West Sussex

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