Town school governors vote against federation idea

GOVERNORS have halted a plan to merge two Abingdon area Church of England primary schools.

The plan would have seen Culham Parochial Primary School given shared use of the headteacher at St Nicolas Primary School, Abingdon, and a joint governing board.

However, despite the governors at Culham — which has not had a permanent headteacher for more than a year — voting in favour of the project, the idea was rejected by the governors of St Nicolas.

Last night, acting headteacher at Culham, Stephanie Fawdry, said: “This school is very important for the community and we are devastated with the outcome.

“The building is only one of two community buildings in the village and there is a thriving spirit here.

“We are working with the local authority as to what will happen with the next step. I will be leaving in July and all options are open.”

In a letter to the St Nicolas parents, the chairman of governors Richard Dix wrote that out of 56 reponses to a consultation on whether the schools should merge, 29 were against, 18 in favour and nine undecided.

The letter said: “After reading all the responses, debating the points made and considering all the other evidence available to us, the governors decided not to agree to form a federation with Culham school.

“Although the Culham governers at their meeting decided in favour of federation, our decision means that the proposed federation will not go ahead.”

St Nicolas headteacher Dick Furniss said: “Federations are part of the future, but clearly it was not right for us at this time.

“The process has been challenging for all the parents at St Nicolas Primary because this came out of the blue. We sympathise with the pupils, teachers and governors at Culham Primary and hope that their future is secure.”

There are 430 pupils at St Nicolas and 46 at Culham. The plan was first mooted in March after the Culham governors asked the local authority to help find a suitable church school to form a federation due to problems recruiting a headteacher.

Under the proposal, Culham would have had a full-time head of teaching and learning who would have run the school day to day. Mr Furniss would have spent about half a day a week at the school.

There are two federations in Oxfordshire — Banbury School with Dashwood Community School, Banbury, and Tetsworth Primary School with John Hampden Primary School, Thame.

County council spokesman Marcus Mabberley said: “The local authority is working closely with the governors of Culham School to secure the long-term leadership of the school.”

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