Wilby school ‘delighted’ about Glenvale Park relocation recommendation – residents respond with petition

Wilby Church of England Primary was recommended for relocation yesterday (July 20)
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School bosses have said they are ‘delighted’ at the prospect of their village primary moving to a new-build premises more than three miles away – but not all locals agree that it’s a good move.

Just hours after bosses at Wilby Church of England Primary School publicly said they were ‘delighted’ at the ‘fantastic opportunity’ that comes with being the preferred school to take up residence at Glenvale Park Primary, locals launched a petition against the move.

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Responding to the news Lynette Dudley, on behalf of the governors of Wilby CE Primary School said: “We are delighted that Wilby CE Primary has been selected as the preferred school.

Wilby C of E Primary School could be on the moveWilby C of E Primary School could be on the move
Wilby C of E Primary School could be on the move

"This is a fantastic opportunity that will give our children better learning spaces, more vibrant and green play areas and access to better resources and opportunities – but schools are, ultimately, about people.

"We have to ensure the ethos that makes our school so special not only remains, but flourishes.

“While this is very exciting news, it is important to stress that this is just the next step in a much longer journey.

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"There is still much work and discussion needed to make this move a reality, and we are all committed to ensuring that we listen to our children, parents and staff at every stage.”

The primary school in Glenvale Park is due for completion this autumn, with a view to accepting students in time for the 2024/25 academic yearThe primary school in Glenvale Park is due for completion this autumn, with a view to accepting students in time for the 2024/25 academic year
The primary school in Glenvale Park is due for completion this autumn, with a view to accepting students in time for the 2024/25 academic year

Wilby C of E Primary has fewer than 100 students currently enrolled, but the Glenvale Park facility that the council has recommended it should relocate to can accommodate 420.

Lynette added: “While our school has a very proud and rich history, our building was designed for just a small number of children learning in the 1850s.

"It is not easily, or affordably, adaptable to the demands of a modern education to help children to thrive in the world that awaits them.

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“That is why governors submitted a proposal for our school to be considered for this move.

"This was supported by the very positive response we had to our initial consultation with our community."

However Ruth Pritchard, a resident of Wilby who was hoping to send her child to the village’s primary school, began a petition yesterday (July 20).

She said: "I started the petition now that we’ve heard that Little Harrowden school is not being considered anymore, because I feel we do need to fight to keep Wilby Primary within the village.

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“One of the appeals of coming to this village was that we would be in the catchment area for the local school.

“There is also a wider concern about how this will affect the village as a whole, with its community and culture.

“The school and the church are the heart of the village and the hub of the community, and without the school I feel it would have a massive negative impact on the village.

It is her opinion that, while moving from the Wilby premises would be welcomed in certain circumstances, Glenvale Park is ‘not appropriate’, citing difficulty accessing the facility that is 3.6 miles away, and over an hour walk, from Wilby’s current primary school.

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Ruth’s desired outcome would be that the school ‘stays where it is until there is a more appropriate option for relocation.’

Caroline Aldridge, who started the petition following Little Harrowden Community Primary School’s expression of interest, signed the Wilby one, too.

She said: “I wanted to show my support to those who felt the same as us.”

Caroline also noted that the relief of Little Harrowden not being recommended to move is ‘overwhelming’, adding: “A lot of the parents including myself we're very emotional.

"We're very pleased.”

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While the council has recommended Wilby C of E Primary School for relocation to Glenvale Park, this does not guarantee it. There will now be a period of public consultation, with the outcome informing the council’s executive decision making process later in the year.