I am writing to make you aware that The Good Shepherd Trust (GST), who are the Governing Body of the Surrey Hills All Saints Primary School, announced last week the start of a consultation process on the proposed closure of the Abinger site. This would mean the transfer of Year R (Reception class) and Key Stage 1 (Years 1 and 2) pupils – children aged 4-7 – to the Westcott site.
Surrey Hills All Saints Primary School (SHASPS) currently operates from two sites; one in Abinger and the other in Westcott.
GST’s detailed rationale for this decision is attached.
The proposed closure of the Abinger site is for financial reasons. It is also associated with falling pupil numbers. This decision has significant implications for the Westcott site in the short, medium, and long term and it is imperative that Westcott residents express their views on this proposed move by GST. GST has launched an on-line questionnaire for all stakeholders to complete which includes a free text comments section. This can be found at –
Please complete the questionnaire as soon as possible to express your views. In order that the WVA can support parents and the future of the whole school it is important that we can track opinions. Sending a copy of your comments from the survey to email@example.com will be helpful in our efforts to help find alternatives to the closure of the Abinger site.
The Westcott Village Association (WVA) has already expressed its views to GST and you may wish to consider some or all of these in your own response to the consultation:
- On the face of it this proposal may look good for Westcott and the future of the school site in Westcott. But the WVA believes that, with spare places at other primary schools potentially more easily accessible than Westcott, Abinger parents may opt to send them to these, including those in GST’s portfolio – St. John’s in Dorking and The Weald in Beare Green.
- There is an assumption by GST that parents will automatically transfer their children to the Westcott site, but with over-supply in the whole area, this is far from guaranteed.
- We are concerned that the decision has already been taken and the only “consultation“, appears to be about the timing of the transfer of the children to the Westcott site.
- What alternative options other than closure of the Abinger site has GST considered, and what consultation meetings with the wider community, Diocese or Surrey County Council have taken place?
- GST needs to explain what positive action they took in 2019/2020 to reverse decline where pupil numbers started to drop markedly.
- If you compare the SHASPS website to the competing schools GST runs (St. John’s C of E in Dorking and The Weald in Beare Green for example) little effort appears to have been made to promote the school’s excellent academic record and counter the now very old last OFSTED report
- Apart from the £100,000 maintenance backlog that GST has built up for the Abinger building, what is the financial position of SHASPS? Unless pupil numbers are increased, the move to the Westcott site will not reverse the decline of Surrey Hills ASPS
- GST appear to be looking at the SHASPS position in isolation. A more strategic exercise should be undertaken to ensure parents in Dorking and across the whole Surrey Hills area are provided with real choice. Only then should a consultation on the future of the school take place.
- A total closure of an important community asset in Abinger would in turn potentially put the Westcott site at risk of the same fate a few years later. This would be a tragedy for our two rural villages, in both cases becoming less sustainable and less attractive places to live and bring up young families.
- The presence of a school in a locality has a significant draw on families and an impact on the value of properties. Without a school in Abinger, and with a longer-term threat to the Westcott site, there will be social and demographic impact on both village communities with a consequent negative impact on the value of property.
Please take the time to express your views on this important proposal from the Good Shepherd Trust which will have an impact on the Westcott community as well as the immediate threat to Abinger.
The WVA is working with the Abinger community to jointly address this threat to both communities. Please circulate this email to local friends.
Chairman, Westcott Village Association
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