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Is this the end for arson-hit school?

A ROW has erupted over the future of Pinewood Infant School amid fears it may never be rebuilt.

A ROW has erupted over the future of Pinewood Infant School amid fears it may never be rebuilt.

A massive number of surplus places at infant schools across Farnborough have left a question mark after the school was burnt down two weeks ago.

Eighty per cent of the school was destroyed in the fire which police believe youths started by setting fire to a nearby bin.

There will be temporary classrooms for children when they return from their Easter break, but the school’s long term future is uncertain.

Maurice Sheehan, county councillor for education, revealed that the panel had been set to review the amount of surplus places at schools in the local area before the fire.

Back in 2000 education bosses estimated that by 2003 there would be a drop in the number of four-year-olds in Farnborough by as much as 25%, leaving infant schools struggling to fill places.

Several infant and junior schools in Farnborough were amalgamated into primary schools at the time of the report, and there are fears Pinewood could be next.

Cllr Sheehan voiced his concerns that amalgamation could be on the cards.

He said: “It is still early days, but we are due to discuss the issues surrounding primary education in Farnborough.

“Now the fire at Pinewood Infants needs to be put into that equation. It would be nonsensical to spend millions of pounds on rebuilding it, only to close another further down the road.

“We have to sit down and look at all the figures, such as where the surplus places are. Pinewood Infant, for example, was just a little over half full.”

Yet the school governors are furious that a question mark hangs over the school’s future, arguing that they had been assured it would be rebuilt.

Chairman of governors Mildred Stocks said: “I would be extremely concerned if children from Pinewood were scattered all over Farnborough.

“We have been told there is every intention of rebuilding the school and assured that there is still room for this.

“We are not just a school but a community centre with a mother and baby group, playgroup and language impairment unit using our extra space.

“This school is anxious to provide provision for the community as well, as this is a densely populated area.”

There will be portable buildings when the children return at the end of the month.

These will also accommodate the playgroup and community facilities.

Cllr Sheehan said: “Pinewood Infant School may still be rebuilt, but with reduced new places.

“All the options need to be looked at in the cold light of day.”

Yet if the committee decide to amalgamate the school, they will face fierce resistance from teachers, parents and school governors.

Mrs Stocks said: “I can assure you that this would be the last thing any of us would want.

“I would fight tooth and nail for the school to be kept.

“There is no other place for community provision in Pinewood Park — it would be disastrous.”


Charlotte Neal
Chief Reporter (Aldershot)
Joshua Smith
Farnborough Reporter
Jon Couch
Sport Editor
Stephen Lloyd
Fleet & Yateley Reporter
Ros Collins
Junior News & Mail
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