'Misjudgment' on Combs School

From this week's Buxton Advertiser, reported by Louise Bellicoso.
HIGH PEAK borough councillors have agreed not to support a county council proposal to close Combs Infant School.

The unanimous decision was made by members of the Social Inclusion and Community committee at their meeting on Monday night after they heard presentations from the county council and representatives of the campaign group fighting to stop the suggested closure.

Dee Hill, Senior Assistant Education Officer for planning in the development team at Derbyshire County council, said: "We appreciate that in proposing a school closure we are proposing something very sensitive and very emotive.

"With the proposal to close Combs Infant School what we are looking at is really the issue of surplus places within the area of Chapel and particularly at Chapel Primary School as well as analysing attendance at local schools from within the normal area."

Parent Governor Nick Boden told the meeting: "Combs is a really remarkable school and the findings of the last Ofsted report bear that out.

"That puts us in the top ten per cent of schools in the country."

Shutting the school to save money would supposedly allow cash to be spent in other areas, but he said: "Small schools and very small schools do get some protective funding and the amount given to Combs is £49,000. We accept that it costs more to run a school in rural circumstances.

"Combs Infant School is actually under threat because of the very funding allocated to look after the interests of a small school."

He added: "We believe that DCC (Derbyshire County Council) has misjudged the strength of community spirit in Combs and the historical significance of the village."

Cllr David Lomax, in proposing that High Peak Borough Council do not support the county council's proposal to close Combs Infant School, said: "It would certainly have an impact on the community in general and clearly it is not as if it would necessarily mean young children who go to school there would move on to Chapel school and help with their problems* (through increased funding).

"I think it is strange that we are here talking about closing one of our successful schools.

"It is at the heart of the village and it would have a bigger impact than just the school itself.

* Note: Cllr Lomax was referring to the 'problem' of surplus places, as defined by DCC.