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Parents rallying to primary plan

PUBLISHED: 16:10 05 February 2009 | UPDATED: 12:57 03 July 2010

UNCERTAIN FUTURE: Kim White, front, with parents and children

UNCERTAIN FUTURE: Kim White, front, with parents and children

Liz Coates

Parent power is aiming to save threatened primary classrooms at Cobholm with hundreds of people already putting their names to petitions.

Shocked mums began drawing up battle lines after it emerged the school's promised new role as an all-through primary looked uncertain.

Parent power is aiming to save threatened primary classrooms at Cobholm with hundreds of people already putting their names to petitions.

Shocked mums began drawing up battle lines after it emerged the school's promised new role as an all-through primary looked uncertain.

Education chiefs are meeting with their own emergency planners at Norfolk County Council on Monday to try and rescue the plans after the Environment Agency asked for extra flood protection measures which could take it beyond budget.

A spokesman said they were looking to “explore every possible option” including switching to infant status which would mean losing a year group.

This week parents who had told their children they would be staying at the school until they were 11 said they aimed to channel their disappointment and panic into positive action.

Kim White of Mill Road said friendship was fuelling their fight with mums and children enjoying a close bond. Many of the pupils including her son Stephen, six, had been together since nursery and hoped to stay in the same class until their transfer to high school.

The prospect of sending their six and seven year olds off to junior schools on school buses was not one they wanted to entertain and Mrs White stressed that the school not only played a key role in education but also in the close-knit community.

“We are all pulling together and throwing ideas together to see what we can come up with. It just seems such a worthwhile cause. Come September a lot of our children have got to leave the school and be moved to another school which we were not expecting. We all went to look at the plans and everything seemed so positive.”

Sharon Dyble, whose seven-year-old son Jamielee is in Year 2, said: “We were promised a primary school and we had our hearts set on it,” adding that he was too young to travel to junior school by bus.

Marina Bell, said that moving her son Geoffrey aged seven, who has mild learning difficulties, to another school could have a devastating effect on his learning just as he is close to hitting targets.

And Cheryl Walker who has six year old twins Charlie and Callum said Cobholm was a lovely school but that all the uncertainty was worrying for parents and children. She said: “They have had all the plans up in the lobby for months on end. What is the point if it is not going to happen now. People would have been more understanding if they had said it from the start. There are some lovely teachers and it has come as a real blow.”

A spokesman for Norfolk County Council, said: “We have a meeting on Monday with our emergency planning team to look at improving the flood evacuation plan we already have.

“It all depends on the additional cost. We have funding in place but there is no additional funding. That money has to be spent on the school. We are having to explore every possible option.”

She added they were also working with the school to try to find a solution for Year 6 in September which could mean mixed aged classes or moving them to Edward Worlledge.

She stressed that any changes would be subject to public consultation. Great Yarmouth MP Tony Wright said he was glad the issue was out in the open and causing debate. He urged everyone involved to “pull out all the stops” to achieve the primary plan, adding: “Where there is a will there is a way and the money is there.” And his own discussions with the Environment Agency indicated a simple solution.

County councillor John Holmes said: “The issue of the extensions necessary to take primary children up to the age of 11 has dragged on far too long. Let us all hope that the matter is resolved quickly and the children of Cobholm can soon get the 21st century school they deserve.”

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