175-year-old primary school saved after months of uncertainty

Hexton JMI opened in 1846

Hexton JMI opened in 1846 - Credit: Maya Derrick

Recommendations have been put forward by Hertfordshire county councillors that Hexton JMI does not permanently close.

The village primary school, which was founded in 1846 by Caroline de Lautour, had been facing possible closure due to low pupil numbers.

With just 31 pupils on roll at the start of term, the village school is currently under half full, which has led to financial constraints and potential future challenges to provide quality education across a broad range of needs.

However, following public consultation, the council’s Education, Libraries and Lifelong Learning Cabinet Panel today (Tuesday, December 7) decided to recommend to cabinet that no further action is taken to proceed with the closure proposal.

This decision was made, in part, on the basis of the strong proposals from the school’s governing body to rebuild pupil numbers and strengthen the school’s financial position.

The final decision on the school’s future will be taken at a cabinet meeting on Monday, December 13.

In a bid to save their school from closure, teachers, parents and friends of Hexton JMI rallied, campaigned and petitioned, and invited local representatives into the school to showcase what it has to offer - and the life still left in it.

Following the 175th anniversary celebrations, a five-week consultation on the proposal to close Hexton JMI was held between September 30 and November 3, with a public meeting taking place in October.

In total, 368 responses were received to the consultation, with 361 of these opposing the closure plans.

Cllr Terry Douris, cabinet member for education, libraries and lifelong learning, said: “We always said we would consult on these proposals and listen to the feedback received.

“We met with the Hexton community at the public meeting and subsequently with the governing body which made a strong case that pupil numbers can be increased and the school enabled to succeed.

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“Therefore, on the basis of the representations made to us we are proposing to cabinet that it takes no further action on the closure.

“We look forward to continuing to work closely with the school to see it start to thrive in the future.”

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