• Tipton St John Primary School set to close and move - I will do all I can to support parents

    12th July 2016 | News | Claire
  • I have attended most of the confidential meetings over the past two years as Colin Butler, headteacher, Richard Power from the diocese and the governors desperately tried to come up with a solution to the repeated risk of (and actual) flooding, which has caused challenging conditions for staff and children, especially in 2008 when the school was badly flooded and has to be evacuated for several months.

    Just this year alone has already seen two flood clear up operations, in which the community (and I) pitched in to help clear up, along with the fire brigade.

    At one point in 2014, I thought it was all going in the right direction.  A site on the edge of the village on the Ottery Road had been identified, Devon County Council was set to buy the land. 

    All that was needed was a successful government bid for funding for the build. 

    And we had an excellent case.  Didn’t we?

    The Environment Agency carried out an assessment which shockingly found that there was a risk to life from fast flowing floodwater, mainly from the Metcombe Brook – and the school stepped up the flood evacuation drills as a result.

    Unfortunately, despite Richard Power from the diocese preparing an excellent case for the Priority Schools Funding programme, government minister, Lord Nash, decided that a risk to children’s lives through flooding wasn’t enough to justify funding – and dismissed the application.

    An appeal also failed, although this time Lord Nash leisurely took about six months to reply to the appeal, with a short dismissive letter. Quite appalling in my view.

    I should clarify that these were not applications out of the blue to a minister, these were applications as part of a round of funding being made available to schools across the country.  Money WAS available for school rebuilding. Although it appears that another round of funding may not now be available for years.

    It is simply unbelievable to me that Tipton St John School did not qualify for such funding.

    I have since attended a very constructive meeting organised by the community which sought to establish a series of questions to put to the governors and the school about the background, which led to the current proposal.

    I will do all I can to support parents in the coming months.

    Photograph with thanks to the Sidmouth Herald. The flood clear up in January.