Welney village primary school where numbers have dropped to 24 under threat of closure by the end of summer term

Welney primary school website

Welney primary school website - Credit: Archant

A tiny village school looks set to close its doors this summer after 167 years because it has become a “concern for the local authority.”

Numbers have dropped to just 24 children with only four new students ready to join the reception class at the William Marshall VC Primary School at Welney in September where “standards are unacceptably low.”

The fall in numbers means that governors have reluctantly acknowledged they are unable to bring about the “significant improvement needed” to guarantee a good enough education for the children of Welney.

The result is a consultation of parents and parish councillors to determine the school’s future, which was launched last week, and will close for views on May 25.

If it is agreed the school will close in August.

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The school has been led for the last 11 years through a partnership with Upwell Community Primary School which sees its head teacher spend one day a week at William Marshall.

A funding boost, which almost doubled the amount of money given per pupil, and was hoped would help keep the school viable, has not helped either.

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The per pupil average for Norfolk is £4,500 whereas William Marshall pupils were receiving £8,839 in the hope it would help keep the school open.

A Norfolk County Council consultation report said: “The continuing decline in pupil numbers and these changes to the way that schools are funded are making it increasingly difficult to manage the budget.

“It is likely that the school will be in deficit by the end of next year.”

The school was opened thanks to a charitable fund set up by London lawyer, William Marshall, who fell ill during a visit to the village and set up the fund as a thank you to the people of Welney for nursing him back to health.

The school was first opened in 1827 as a “free school” for the children of Welney in the vestry of the village chapel.

By 1843 trustees commissioned plans to build a school and schoolmaster’s house with help from the Rev. William Gale Townley, who donated land, and the school was opened in 1848.

•A meeting for parents is at the school on May 19 at 6pm.

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