The future of a village primary school has been thrown into doubt following a proposal to merge it with another school

The Diocese of Norwich Education Academy Trust (DNEAT) has suggested merging Weasenham CofE Primary Academy with Brisley CofE Primary Academy from January 1 next year.

It would mean the closure of Weasenham's school, which has a capacity of 52 pupils aged two to 11.

Oliver Burwood, DNEAT's chief executive, said they had started consulting parents on what they wanted to see happen. 

Dereham Times: Oliver Burwood, CEO of DNEAT Oliver Burwood, CEO of DNEAT (Image: Jungle Communications)

Mr Burwood said: "Once we know what this is we can better support an increase in places locally for pre-school children.”

But the plan has already sparked a backlash from some, including village campaigner David Fairchild, known as the 'Weasenham whinger'.

Mr Fairchild, 71, said expecting Weasenham children to travel seven miles by bus to Brisley was unreasonable. 

He said: "Can you imagine this on a cold January morning when it is still dark with possible rain or snow.

"The parents would then have to collect them again in the late afternoon. Is this what our country is coming to?"

Dereham Times: Village campaigner David Fairchild, also known as the 'Weasenham whinger'Village campaigner David Fairchild, also known as the 'Weasenham whinger' (Image: Aaron McMillan)

Both schools are members of the Hope Federation within the trust - with a third school, Rudham.

The federation shares a governing body and executive headteacher.

Brisley takes on pupils aged between four-11, which is the age range for the proposed school merger.

It has a capacity of 105 pupils with currently 69 pupils on roll.

Dereham Times: Weasenham Church of England Primary AcademyWeasenham Church of England Primary Academy (Image: Google Maps)

DNEAT has an agreed ‘small schools strategy’ which outlines when closures, mergers or amalgamations of schools should be considered.

The strategy supports the view that sustainable schools should usually be for 50 or more pupils, with three class bases and financed accordingly.

The trust says Wesenham now meets parts of the criteria, as the school has seen three years of decreasing numbers.

The document adds: “The view of the trust is that Weasenham is too small to be successful for its pupils and community and that there is no realistic chance of this changing. 

Dereham Times: Brisley Church of England Primary AcademyBrisley Church of England Primary Academy (Image: Google Maps)

"Children would be better served attending another larger local school, preferably within the Trust at Brisley CE Primary Academy, which has space to accommodate all of the displaced pupils between the ages of 4-11 and would retain its good Ofsted rating.”

An additional issue is that the preschool building, which closed earlier this year, requires extensive refurbishment.

The trust said that were the merger to happen, pupils would not be required to buy new uniforms, but and vouchers of £30 to spend on branded uniforms covered by the federation can be requested.

The trust would also put on a free transport for children currently attending Wesenham, and would last until their time at the merged school, came to an end.

This offer could not be expanded to children not yet attending the school.

If the merger went ahead, the school buildings and land at the Weasenham school would return to their original owners, either Norfolk County Council or the Diocese of Norwich.

A consultation meeting on the proposal will be held at the Weasenham School today (September 13) at 5pm.

After this consultation ends, DNEAT will review the comments received and use the findings to inform their full business case to the Secretary of State who will decide whether to proceed with the proposal.

To have your say, either attend the meeting, email (please quote Weasenham as the subject in your response) or write to Weasenham Church of England Primary Academy Consultation, DNEAT, Orchard House, Hall Lane, East Tuddenham near Mattishall, Norfolk, NR20 3LR

All responses are needed by 5pm on October 6.