Parents take Somerset County Council to court over schools change

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Children in a classroomImage source, Getty Images
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The hearing over the schools change is expected to take place in the autumn

Parents are taking a council to the High Court over a plan to close schools.

Somerset County Council wants to close infant, middle and junior schools in Crewkerne and Ilminster so it runs just primaries and secondaries in the areas.

Families who are opposed to the "unsatisfactory" plan have applied for judicial review, which is set to be heard in the autumn.

The council, which declined to comment, wants changes to take place in 2022.

It previously said the changes will take place as a result of low pupil numbers which has caused financial instability.

One of the families' daughter attends Misterton Church of England First School.

They said they were concerned the council's decision to shut the school had been "final", regardless of council consultations in 2019, 2020 and 2021.

"Our children live in rural communities and desperately need their schools to remain open," they told the Local Democracy Reporting Service (LDRS).

Image source, Google
Image caption,
Swanmead Community School in Ilminster is set to be impacted by the county council's changes

The second family's son attends Greenfylde Church of England (CoE) First School in Ilminster, which is set to merge with Swanmead Community School, a non-faith school.

Under the plan, they would create a split-site CoE primary school.

The pupil's parents said they have needed to oppose measures "with hands tied behind their backs", with two of the consultations held during national lockdowns.

Rachael Smurthwaite, from law firm Irwin Mitchell, which is supporting both families, said: "Both clients feel strongly the council failed to take proper account of the impact on their children's education and the local community.

"The impact of the proposals on our rural communities will be significant. We look forward to the case being heard by the court."

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