‘Any review of La Houguette School’s future is years away’

EDUCATION officials tried to reassure parents yesterday and hit back at suggestions the school should close due to falling pupil numbers.

La Houguette Primary School. (Picture by Luke Le Prevost, 32130444)
La Houguette Primary School. (Picture by Luke Le Prevost, 32130444)

In an email to all parents, sent on behalf of the committee by the school, Nick Hynes, director of Education, said Deputy Peter Roffey had been ‘premature and irresponsible’ to say in a radio interview that La Houguette was an obvious candidate for closure following a review of the size and location of all primary schools.

He told parents that a review and any subsequent changes to primary schools – such as mergers or closures – were years away.

Deputy Roffey had called for such a review to be brought forward after it was revealed that three more primary schools would cut their number of reception classes from September.

They include La Houguette, which will go from two reception classes to one. Meanwhile, Forest, two miles up the road, currently expects to have 13 children in its reception year.

‘I know news such as like we’ve seen this morning can be very distressing and upsetting for parents, students and staff,’ said Mr Hynes.

‘I wanted to promptly reassure you that while a primary review will happen at some point, realistically it is at least two or three years before it will even start, and any changes as a result of that are not likely to be put in place for a considerable period after that.

‘Even once the review does start, it is premature and irresponsible for anyone to speculate about the outcome.’

Mr Hynes told parents that La Houguette was not the only school cutting its number of classes. Vale currently operates three reception classes but will run two from September, replicating a move made by Hautes Capelles last year. Notre Dame du Rosaire is going down from two reception classes to one.

‘This does not pre-empt any decisions about the future of La Houguette or indeed any other primary schools who have also reduced their forms of entry for September,’ he said.

In 2013 the States agreed a policy to move away from smaller primary schools and towards each one having two or three classes in each year group. St Andrew’s Primary and St Sampson’s Infants were closed, but since then four primary schools have reduced their number of classes.

Earlier in this political term, Education, Sport & Culture won the backing of the States to defer a review of primary schools.

Education, Sport & Culture president Andrea Dudley-Owen said La Houguette headteacher Claire Judd had been contacted by parents and children asking if their school was going to be closed.

Deputy Dudley-Owen lambasted Deputy Roffey for speculating about the future of La Houguette.

‘Deputy Roffey is too experienced not to understand that a States member’s comments in the media should be well considered, especially when we discuss matters which cause real-life concern to members of our community,’ she said.

‘It is irresponsible, insensitive and simply unkind of Deputy Roffey publicly to identify La Houguette as a school that he believes needs to close.

‘A review such as this, looking at an extremely important delivery area needs to be done well, with careful planning and detailed consideration.’

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