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West End School defenders say they are being ignored

West End Primary School was announced as one of eight schools to close under government’s education reform plans (File photograph)

A group set up to fight the closure of West End Primary School has claimed it was snubbed by the Government.

The West End Warriors for Legacy said presented a petition with 315 signatures against the plan to shut the school as part of an education system shake-up.

They also submitted a list of questions about the criteria for closure to David Burt, the Premier, and Diallo Rabain, the education minister, last month – but said they had not received a response.

A spokeswoman for the group said: “In addition, they were presented with general questions regarding the decision-making process and some misstatements regarding the comparative advantages of West End Primary versus Somerset Primary, particularly with regard to acreage available for development.

“Regrettably, the West End Warriors for Legacy have never received a formal acknowledgement of either the petition or the general questions.

“Moreover, we have not received responses at all to the general questions.“

The group also claimed the Government’s report on the size of the school, which formed part of the criteria for its closure instead of Somerset Primary School, was inaccurate.

The group said that the Government’s claim that Somerset Primary was 1.5 acres bigger than West End was wrong.

They said Somerset Primary was only 0.86 to 0.89 acres larger than West End Primary – and 0.84 acres of that was Somerset Preschool.

They said if Somerset Preschool was retained, then Somerset Primary would be only 0.03 to 0.05 acres larger than West End Primary.

The group asked the Government: “Is it true that Somerset Primary is the preferred new Community School mainly because its slightly larger acreage would allow the government to build a world-class facility there?

“Is it also possible to build a world-class facility on a site that is 0.03 to 0.05 acres smaller?”

The group asked if the history of West End PS, one of the first schools on the island to provide a free education to Black children, was properly considered when the government decided to axe it.

They added West End PS, opened in 1869, was the community school for Sandys Parish for more than a century “multiple generations of the community built, maintained and supported the school during years of neglect”.

The group asked: “Is it likely that West End would score sufficiently higher than Somerset Primary if history and legacy factors were included in the scoring system to at least equalise the scores?”

The group added: “Why, despite a constituency that has solidly supported this government for decades, is West End again having to fight for its legacy and respect?

“The community has repeatedly had to resist assaults against the dignity of the school and wisdom of the community … Why are we here again?”

West End Primary School is one of eight primary schools that will close under the Government’s plan, which will also see an end to middle schools.

Campaigners gathered at a rally at the West End PS field in June and vowed to fight to prevent the closure of the historic institution.

The West End Warriors for Legacy said they would ask supplemental questions of the Government next week.

The Ministry of Education did not respond to questions from The Royal Gazette by press time.

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Published August 27, 2021 at 7:55 am (Updated August 27, 2021 at 7:42 am)

West End School defenders say they are being ignored

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