School still fighting closure

By Mark Elson   |   Senior Reporter   |
Wednesday 18th April 2018 7:19 am
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A SCHOOL threatened with closure says it is “still fighting”, even though a government minister says he intends to stop funding it.

St Anthony’s School in Cinderford has urged supporters and townspeople to write to Forest Conservative MP Mark Harper urging him to back its campaign to stay open.

The former Catholic school is currently in special measures after critical Ofsted reports, but says it has improved “rapidly” since head teacher Lorna Middleton’s appointment last September.

A £750,000 upgrade was recently completed at the school, but just before Easter it received a hammer blow when Schools Minister Lord Agnew said proposals to improve its education standards were “insufficient” and he aimed to close it down. The school board has until April 30 to respond.

School governor Sophie Allen said this week: “St Anthony’s would like to say a huge thank you to the community for their continuing support and, contrary to some recent reports, it is still fighting and making positive headway. 

“To be clear, no definite decision has been made. Since the new head Lorna Middleton was appointed last September, the pupils and their families have experienced many improvements such as the Read Write Inc scheme which has been introduced and has seen a significant increase in the pupils’achievements.”

She urged: “Don’t give up on us, show us your support by writing to Mark Harper at [email protected] urging him to support the survival of St Anthony’s School.”

She added that other recent achievements at the school included the Forest of Dean primary schools gymnastics competition where pupils won six medals, and a further six children also placed first, second or third on their floor or vault discipline, with half of the school’s pupils going on to join the after-school gymnastics club.

“The power of our school to inspire community cohesion was evident through the massive support given to us and enabling us to secure these excellent outcomes for our delightful children. 

“Re-people Limited sponsored two training sessions, transport and new equipment, along with the help and time of one of the parents and an ex-St Anthony’s teacher, who gave their time, energy and expertise to make this happen,” she added.

“The Key Stage Two pupils have all been put through their paces with the Marines visiting every week, working on their confidence, teambuilding, self-esteem and learning about nutrition, healthy lifestyles for lifelong fitness and lifesaving skills. The culmination of the spring term’s project saw the children building fires to roast their own marshmallows.

The introduction of the breakfast club has seen many of the children coming to school early to start their day and Gloucester Rugby Club have taught PE to some of the children.”

She said that under Mrs Middleton, the school’s family community had been enhanced, with parents encouraged to bring their ideas to school and to organise social and fundraising events.

The school, which numbers just under 100 primary and nursery children, took part in World Book Day despite the snow and Sports Relief with a visit from the Mayor of Cinderford, Cllr Roger Sterry, raising £213.

“This and much more has happened while the school has undergone much needed building work and updating. Through all of this the teachers still found a way to teach and parents have been resilient and supportive throughout the critical improvements to the school where the corridors and classrooms echo daily with the sounds of children’s laughter and the endless questions of their enquiring minds,” added Mrs Allen.

When the school leant that Lord Agnew was considering closing it down, pupils, staff and parents marched to Cinderford Triangle to send protest letters to the Department for Education.

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