Children should not face a 25 mile detour to school if the road is flooded at Welney, says councillor

Welney primary school website

Welney primary school website - Credit: Archant

Education bosses, who will decide whether a Fens school will shut, have been urged to think carefully about where uprooted pupils would go - to stop them facing a 25 mile detour because of a road which floods for months at a time.

Norfolk County Council is consulting on the future of William Marshall Voluntary Controlled School in Welney, which had just 24 pupils on roll at the start of the school year and which shares a headteacher with Upwell Community Primary School.

Ofsted inspectors said in 2013 that the school requires improvement and governors reluctantly acknowledged the school might have to close.

Consultation has been going on since last month and will continue until Monday, May 25, with a public meeting at the school next Tuesday (19). If closure is agreed, then the school will shut in August.

County councillors discussed the school’s fate and raised concerns over where pupils would be sent if it does shut.

Harry Humphrey, county councillor for Marshland South, said it was sad that a village had already lost its shop and post office and now faced losing its school.

But he said he recognised the difficulties the governors had in making it sustainable.

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However, he said, if the school is closed, then the catchment areas established for pupils in the area needed careful consideration.

He said: “A problem with Welney is that you have a particular problem with the Wash road, which, when it floods, means a 25 mile detour.

“When considering catchment areas I wonder if it that should be examined, so children do not get sent to a school on the other side of that road.”

Fellow councillor Brian Long, who represents Fincham, said: “The school in Upwell might be the obvious choice, but not if it means children face the diversion because the road is flooded for months.

“The pupils’ first school of choice should be one which means they do not have to cross that causeway.”