PARENTS and headteachers have been reacting to the decision which will restructure the schools system in Ilminster and Crewkerne. 

Some say this is an "exciting" opportunity and some are "devastated" by the decision. 

Last Wednesday (March 17), Somerset County Council’s Cabinet approved plans to change the three-tier school system to a two-tier system. 

READ MORE: Schools restructure plans in Crewkerne and Ilminster approved

Under the new plans, Wadham School will become a secondary school; Maiden Beech, Ashlands, St Bartholomew’s, Merriott and Haselbury Plucknett will become primary schools; Swanmead and Greenfylde will amalgamate and become a primary school and Misterton school will close. 

Councillor Faye Purbick, cabinet member for education and transformation, said the decision was a “significant milestone” for the future of education in the towns. 

Matthew Gardner, headteacher of Wadham School, said the community can see this as an “exciting” and “once in a generation” opportunity to contribute to the delivery of education. 

 “The existing, formal partnership we have with all the other schools in the area is already strong and this is a foundation upon which we can build to ensure that the changes are successfully implemented,” he said. 

“We believe these changes will help us to deliver even more for our young people and the communities we serve, in this lovely corner of Somerset.”
However Mark Walker, headteacher at Swanmead school, said the staff, parents and children are “devastated” by the decision. 

“The system and quality of education in Crewkerne and Ilminster should have been regarded as one of the ‘jewels in the crown’ for the county’s schooling,” he said. 

“Taking a sledgehammer to it was not what most people had in mind and has left hundreds perplexed and asking why.

“Despite the bitterness and difference of opinion, what we do have is a group of headteachers and staff who will be committed to work together throughout this. 

“For all of those people, me included, it will be business as usual whatever direction this goes.

"I will be at my desk and around my school each day supporting my colleagues in delivering the best ‘educational day out’ we can until we are told otherwise. 

“It is difficult to know how to feel. You strive, you have impact, you deliver yet you’re told to do it differently. Not because it isn’t good enough or because the customer isn’t happy but because someone just says ‘because you have to.’

“The feeling of numbness that now exists I know will pass, and we will wake tomorrow ready to fight another day.

“It is the least that the children in these two towns and their families deserve.”

Peter Elliott, leader and co-founder of The Bridgwater and Taunton College Trust (BTCT) said their focus will be on ensuring the changes cause the least amount of disruption and upheaval possible to the children, families and communities”. 

Reacting to the news, parent Holly Phillips, said the decision did not come as a surprise. 

“Obviously many are incredibly upset by the decision, but it didn’t come as any great surprise.

"SCC have dismissed a wealth of legitimate concerns throughout the various consultations and they just continued to do so when they voted plans through.

“We intend to continue fighting this. 

“Details can be found on ‘Protect Crewkerne/Ilminster District’s Education System’ on Facebook."

Parents who are upset by the decision have also started a gofundme page to raise funds for a legal challenge to SSC’s plans. 

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