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Alison Hopley head of closure-threatened Alderman Swindell Primary School in Great Yarmouth comes out fighting over planned £6.4m merger

PUBLISHED: 10:28 14 June 2017

Alison Hopley, headteacher at Alderman Swindell Primary School. Picture: James

Alison Hopley, headteacher at Alderman Swindell Primary School. Picture: James

Archant Norfolk Photographic© 2008

A headteacher has pledged to fight for the future of her “happy, successful, and welcoming school” which faces closure under a shake-up.

Alderman Swindell Primary School in Great Yarmouth.
Beresford Road entrance.
September 2015.

Picture: James BassAlderman Swindell Primary School in Great Yarmouth. Beresford Road entrance. September 2015. Picture: James Bass

Education chiefs are looking to axe Alderman Swindell in Great Yarmouth and transfer its pupils to a new £6.4m building at the nearby North Denes Primary School site by 2020.

But Alison Hopley says she is not convinced by the arguments, tagging it a “poor relation” solution and fearing the community could be “short-changed.”

Alderman Swindell is two years into a move from infant to primary.

Under an earlier shake-up the school has added multiple year groups, resulting in two all-through primary schools within walking distance of each other.

One of the flyers that is being distributed to homes around Newtown.One of the flyers that is being distributed to homes around Newtown.

However while more places were needed in Yarmouth’s crowded urban hub re-organisation had lead to over-capacity in the north of the town where the population is stable and predictable, she said, leading to questions as to why the numbers were “so adrift.”

MORE: Alderman Swindell school in Great Yarmouth faces axe under council merger plan to create new £6.4m facility

“I am not in the business of changing people’s minds,” she said.

“It is more of a case that ‘this is being mooted, what do you want, and why do want it?’

“Alderman Swindell has been serving the community since 1929 and we have a very happy community of parents and children.

“Our reception class is the only one in Great Yarmouth that is over-subscribed and that shows that parents really want to come here.

“Not everyone wants a two-form entry, some families like a smaller school.

“Our school buildings are in very good condition, we have spent a lot, we just need another classroom to take our Year 6.”

Miss Hopley, who has lead the school for almost 15 years, added: “I just want the very best provision for this community and I do not know if that is what is going to happen. Yarmouth is often the poor relation.”

After the consultation swung into action on Monday it was matched by a campaign from the school to encourage people to have their say.

In the next few days posters will be going up around the area and flyers will be dropped on doormats making residents aware of the proposal.

The school is also reaching out to alumni for support.

Penny Carpenter, chairman of the children’s services committee at Norfolk County Council, said in a statement: “We are investing more than £6m in education in the north of Great Yarmouth and feel we can make a bigger impact in transforming local education by building one state-of-the-art school, as opposed to two smaller expansion projects on the two sites.

“We believe that building a new school on the site of North Denes Primary will give children fantastic facilities that support their education, whilst ensuring there are more primary school places for the town’s growing population.

“We would also like to use the current Alderman Swindell buildings to develop new places for children who cannot be educated in mainstream school, so that more children with additional needs in Great Yarmouth can be taught near to their homes.

“We are currently consulting on these proposals and would encourage as many people as possible to give their views.”

The consultation ends on July 21 with a decision due in August.

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