8 December 2023
Weasenham Primary Academy – Update

Having grown up in East Anglia and always been a firm champion of our rural way of life and identity, I’ve long been a vocal supporter of small school networks – particularly regarding keeping our smaller rural schools open and resisting the Whitehall educational merger machine orthodoxy wherever possible.

That’s why I shared local disappointment back in September at the news that the Diocese of Norwich Education and Academies Trust was consulting on the possibility of closing Weasenham Primary Academy and merging it with Brisley – and why I raised awareness of the public consultation and supported those constituents who wished to have their views formally recorded.

(Further details can be found in my previous webstory update here)

I therefore understand the bitter disappointment of many in the Weasenham area this week – with it now confirmed that DNEAT’s merger proposals have been confirmed.

As I have been clear from the outset, were the decision to close the Weasenham site to occur, I was determined to help the local community work with DNEAT to ensure an Alternative Plan is put in place – one that works for both parents and pupils. And that remains the case now. I have been clear throughout the process that we need to avoid bussing children long distances unnecessarily.

I can confirm that I have already been in contact with the Weasenham Parish Chair, County Councillor Mark Kiddle-Morris, NCC Education and DNEAT to ask for an urgent update on the next steps in the process. With the school closing this Autumn Term, I’m very conscious that there isn’t much time.

Please be assured I will do everything I can to support the community and ensure the best Alternative Plan is in place.

The DNEAT stakeholder update on the decision can be found below.

To find out more about my wider work on ‘Fairer Rural Schools Funding and Support’, please click here.

Dear Stakeholder, 

Merger of Weasenham Primary with Brisley Primary 

You will recall we wrote to you, and other key stakeholders, on 11 September 2023 and invited you to give your views as part of a listening period of the proposed merger of Weasenham Primary with Brisley Primary (including change of age range from 2-11 to 4-11). 

At the same time stakeholders were also asked for their contributions to a Norfolk County Council (NCC) consultation on changing the catchment area for the parish of Weasenham so that Massingham become the catchment school.  

The Trust received 20 responses of which 10% expressed broad acceptance and 90% broad objection to the merger proposal. 

All consultation information was considered by the DfE via the Regional Director’s office.  We now have a decision from the Secretary of State for Education who has approved the merger. 

This means that Weasenham Primary Academy site will close, including the pre-school provision, at the end of the current Autumn term.  The property will be returned to the landlord, the Diocese of Norwich, and will cease to operate as a school.

Now that this matter has been determined, NCC will, shortly publish information on how the catchment area will alter from January 2024.  

Thank you for your involvement in this matter. 

We are extremely proud of our record in keeping schools open in small communities, and it is to our great regret that circumstances dictated otherwise for Weasenham.   We will continue to champion small schools in all parts of Norfolk. 

Yours faithfully, 

Oliver Burwood

Chief Executive Officer

Diocese of Norwich Education and Academies Trust (DNEAT)