Governors say relocation is best chance to save Tipton St John Primary School

PUBLISHED: 06:46 04 July 2016

Phil Grover with sons Tom five and seven year old Billy turn up to help in cleaning the playground at Tipton primary school. Ref sho 0485-01-16SH. Photo Simon Horn

Phil Grover with sons Tom five and seven year old Billy turn up to help in cleaning the playground at Tipton primary school. Ref sho 0485-01-16SH. Photo Simon Horn

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'There is a solution: It is not the one we wanted'

Youngsters helped Sidmouth firefighters hosing down the playground at Tipton primary school. Ref sho 0596-01-16SH. Photo Simon HornYoungsters helped Sidmouth firefighters hosing down the playground at Tipton primary school. Ref sho 0596-01-16SH. Photo Simon Horn

Governors have issued a plea for community support in their ‘last chance’ bid to save Tipton St John Primary School.

Proposals to relocate the ageing, flood-prone buildings to brand new premises in Ottery St Mary were met with outrage from many parents and residents, who expressed fears it would be ‘the death of the village’.

In two public meetings held this week, governors and school representatives outlined the dire position they are in and said not only is this the ‘only remaining possibility’ but there is limited time to instigate their planned solution.

At Wednesday’s meeting, executive headteacher Colin Butler gave thanks for a petition to save the school which has gained 487 signatures.

He said: “I found it really affirming of how you feel about the school and how the staff have created a school that you are proud of and passionate about. But all of that is in buildings that are not fit for your children.”

Mr Butler added that staying put is not a viable option as the site is unsafe and rife with problems. He said there is a high possibility that if it is not relocated, the school will have to close anyway.

Richard Power, a surveyor for the Diocese of Exeter, explained the plan – at an estimated cost of £4million – would give access to section 106 funding, paid by developers to mitigate the effects of building work.

It would also meet a need for more primary places in the expanding town and could secure the future of Tipton school – which currently has only 35 per cent of pupils from within the village.

One parent said: “It is my son’s safety and what is best for the children that should be the priority. My feeling is, if it is not moved, the school will close.”

The chairman of the governors, John Sherwood, said: “The responsibility of the governors is firstly the safety of the pupils. There is a solution; it is not the one we wanted but if the school relocates to Ottery, we must not assume that changes will necessarily be negative.”

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

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