A school all to himself

12 September 2007

by Margaret Holness

ST MARY’s Church of England Primary School, Worsborough, near Barnsley, is opening for business every day with teaching staff and a secretary, but only one pupil.

The parents of Sam Campbell have refused to transfer to another church school in a neighbouring village. Sam’s grandmother, Alma Grange, attended the school in the 1930s, and it was reportedly her dying wish that he should go to the same school.

The school, which has space for 100 pupils, was judged to be failing after an inspection in March. Though steps were taken to improve the standard of education, the parents of the 75 pupils on its roll sought places for them in other schools, including another church school. In May, Sheffield diocese asked the local authority, Barnsley Council, to start proceedings to close the school after a consultation period, which ends on 31 December this year.

By the end of the summer, every pupil except Sam had transferred to other schools. But Sam’s mother, Avril Campbell, was this week insisting that he would remain until the school was formally closed.

  The Archdeacon of Doncaster, the Very Revd Robert Fitzharris, who chairs Sheffield Diocesan Board of Education, said: “Together with Barnsley Local Education Authority, we have advised Sam’s mother that it is not in the child’s best educational interests for him to be the only pupil at St Mary’s.”

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