A North Devon primary school will have to relocate temporarily during the year while work is carried out to stabilize the bank behind it.
Swimbridge C of E Primary has been monitoring the movement of the slope at the back of the school for a number of years and engineers now say remedial work is needed to stabilize the bank.
Steps have been taken to secure the building for the remainder of the current term, but further work will begin during the summer holidays and is likely to continue until the October half term.
Plans have not yet been finalized but agreements in principle have been given for Swimbridge staff and pupils to temporarily move to Chittlehampton C of E Primary School from September to October term.
It comes weeks after Devon councilors reluctantly agreed to close the Chittlehampton school at the end of the current academic year because it has so few pupils.
School numbers have been declining for some time. There were just over 40 pupils enrolled five years ago, but this has fallen every year since and is forecast to drop to just 11 in September – leading the county council to deem it “neither educational nor financially sustainable” .
The report explained how the closure of Chittlehampton was in the ‘best educational interests of children in the future’, adding: “Providing a broad and balanced curriculum… is very difficult with such a small and declining number of children.”
The school’s chief executive, Angela Fleming, said of Swimbridge’s temporary relocation in September: “We are extremely grateful to everyone who has helped us put in place interim measures to ensure the continued safety of our pupils and staff on site this term.
“The temporary move will be a significant undertaking but we are determined to manage it with as little disruption as possible and will continue to focus on providing a high quality education for all our children throughout.
“We appreciate the generosity and kindness Chittlehampton has extended to us in this time of need.
A spokesman for the Diocese of Exeter said: “We support the Governors of Swimbridge C of E Primary Schools in their decision to temporarily relocate pupils to enable this remedial work to be carried out as quickly as possible whilst minimizing disruption to teaching.
“We are grateful for the generosity of the governors and staff at Chittlehampton C of E Primary and are delighted that both school communities are supporting each other at this time.”
Councilor Andrew Leadbetter, Devon’s cabinet member for children’s services, said: “We are working hard to support the school in this situation to ensure the safety of our pupils and their continued education.”