Tipton school faces closure or move says head

PUBLISHED: 19:30 12 July 2016

Headteacher Colin Butler

Headteacher Colin Butler

Archant

Tipton St John School will either have to stay where it is and face likely closure or move out of the village, the executive headteacher has warned.

Colin Butler spoke at the Ottery Town Council meeting on Monday (July 4)about the difficult situation the school had been put in.

“We cannot stay on that site; we have a report from the Environment Agency (EA) saying there is a significant threat to life,” he said.

Mr Butler said there were two problems - money and land - and governors could only find the latter. This was despite them taking their plea for a new Tipton school to the Government in an attempt to change the national priority school building programme - which was turned down.

“This leaves us with the option that if we stay where we are, it is very likely Tipton school will have to close because we cannot replace the bottom site,” he said. “When it floods [there] and those buildings deteriorate, we would go down to a two-class school. Two-class schools are not viable anymore and Devon County Council is closing two-class schools.”

Mr Butler said that left the option of moving out of the village to the edge of Ottery, around King’s School, where there were up to five sites being looked at. This would mean an expansion of the school from having 105 places to 210.

Mr Butler said 65 per cent of the children who attended his school came from outside the catchment area and, in September, there would only be 34 youngsters who were actually inside the catchment area.

He said 105-place schools were not built anymore, it had to be 210. There was no way the county council would bus 170 children from Ottery to Tipton.

Cllr Roger Giles said the council had previously written to MP Hugo Swire, asking him to urge his government colleagues to find the money for a new school in Tipton and he thought they needed to do this again.

“I do recognise the difficulty the school and the governors find themselves in, but, something with an irony, there isn’t money to build a new school in Tipton, but there is money to build a new school in Ottery… That seems bizarre, to say the least.

“If it is not in Tipton, it rips the heart out of the community.

“We have 500-plus houses being built in Ottery and no primary school capacity for them.”

The Herald previously reported that Richard Power, a surveyor for the Diocese if Exeter, had explained the Ottery school plan – at an estimated £4million – would give access to section 106 funding because it would help to meet the need for more primary school places in the area.

There will be at least a six-month consultation process for the school proposals and Devon County Council will ultimately decide whether to implement them.


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