Frustration as Kenilworth primary school to close again on election day

GV - entrance to Priors Field Primary School, that will be closed again for polling on 8th June. NNL-170516-201645009
GV - entrance to Priors Field Primary School, that will be closed again for polling on 8th June. NNL-170516-201645009
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Parents and governors at a Kenilworth primary school have ‘had enough’ of the school closing when it becomes a polling station for elections.

Pupils at Priors Field Primary School in Clinton Lane will miss a day of education once again on Thursday June 8 when Kenilworth’s electorate votes in the general election.

This will be another day of disruption for the school after it had to close for the recent Warwickshire County Council elections, as well as the Warwickshire Police and Crime Commissioner elections and the EU referendum last year.

Chair of governors at Priors Field Debbie Dawson raised her and many parents’ concerns at the Kenilworth Town Assembly on Thursday May 11.

She said: “For the second year running the children at Priors Field Primary School will be losing two days of education in the summer term as a result of the school closure due to its use as a polling station.

“This is extremely disruptive to the children’s learning as well as an inconvenience to working parents and undermines the school’s efforts to raise standards and encourage high pupil attendance. Priors Field is the only school in Kenilworth to be affected in this way.”

She also said there was a ‘growing concern’ amongst parents about the school’s closure on election days, and said many had written to the school’s headteacher Margot Brown, the school’s governors and former Kenilworth and Southam MP Jeremy Wright about the problem.

Responding to her concerns at the Town Assembly, Cllr John Cooke (Con, St John’s) said he had ‘every sympathy’ with the school and said he was in touch with the district council to see if an alternative location could be used.

He added: “In this day and age it seems ridiculous to close the school, but the law says if local government wants to use the school’s facilities they have the right to do so.”

The town assembly decided to formally support Priors Field’s case and pass that support onto the district council.

When later asked what she thought when Theresa May announced the snap election, Debbie said: “Apart from my political views, I thought ‘oh no, we’re going to have to close again.’ Quite a few people have been writing letters about it.

“People care that the school is losing out on another day of education and the effect on the children’s learning. We’ve just had enough really.”

Following the meeting, Warwick District Council is now looking at possible solutions.

Graham Leach, the democratic services manager for Warwick District Council, confirmed two alternative sites were being looked at, although he admitted nothing will change before the general election happens.

He said: “The council recognises that the school has no choice but to close when it is used as a polling station due to the layout of the school and the need to protect pupils from harm.

“We only use five schools across Warwick district as polling stations and this is only where absolutely necessary. We have agreed to notify the school of the outcome of the investigation into the two alternative sites.

“If these do not prove viable we will need to continue to use the school, however we will always endeavour to provide the school with as much as advanced warning of an election as possible.”