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School celebrates hard-won survival
A VILLAGE school that won a hard-fought campaign to avoid closure held a special event to celebrate its survival.
Two years ago, Culham Parochial School near Abingdon had just 24 pupils out of a maximum 56, a budget deficit of £50,000 and no permanent headteacher.
Oxfordshire County Council threatened closure unless it met three challenges – finding a headteacher, raising pupil numbers and balancing the books.
Now more than half of the funds have been raised, pupil numbers are up to 47 and Matthew Attree has been the headteacher for more than a year. Fundraisers have so far collected more than £30,000 and are confident that the remainder of the deficit will be reached by March 31.
Those who have played a part in the campaigning celebrated their success with a party.
Chairman of the Save Culham School campaign Kitson Thomas said: “It was a great night. A good celebration for all those who helped our efforts.
“But it was also a reminder that the job is not quite done.We still have to carry on until we finally achieve our goal of raising the £50,000 deficit then we will have a proper party. But this was a thank-you to the community as a whole, to all those people who just helped us in many different ways.”
Campaigners are confident the remainder of the deficit will be paid off by March next year.
Most of the cash has been raised with events like race nights, Christmas parties, car boot sales and a scheme where parents gave £5.33 a month.
Dorchester and Berinsfield county councillor Lorraine Lindsay-Gale said: “I never had any doubts about supporting the school's campaign to stay open.
“It was quite clear that residents valued their school as a central focus of the community.”
She pointed to the efforts of chairman of governors Andrew Churchill-Stone and said: “All three challenges have been met, and it is very gratifying to see that the school is doing so well now.”
The school – which opened in 1850 – came under threat in November 2010 because the head’s post had been empty for two years. By July 2011 it was down to just 24 pupils.
Mr Attree said taking pupils from outside the village was key in boosting numbers.
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