It could all end in tiers say campaigners

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As the deadline looms for the consultation over plans to make Gamlingay First School a primary school, campaigners say it has divided the village.

The First School (GFS) governors have asked to join the Cambridgeshire based Comberton Academy Trust and hope to create a two-tier education system, effectively breaking its links with Gamlingay Village College (GVC) and the Bedfordshire based Stratton Upper School.

In an increasingly bitter debate campaigners who want to keep the current three-tier system held a meeting last week. So far more than 300 people have signed a petition asking GFS governors to think again.

Campaigner Julie Newman said: “Gamlingay, once a lovely, friendly, bustling community of cheerful, kind and caring people who looked after each other, has been divided into two factions.

“It’s distressing to see friendships dissolving, anxious, unhappy parents, angry village residents, arguments taking place both in public and on social media, even neighbours falling out over this issue.”

GFS governors say an increasing number of parents were opting for the two-tier Cambridgeshire system, and moving their youngsters to neighbouring primary schools.

A loss of more than 20 pupils in the past two years had cost the school £60,000 in funding per year and the school roll was continuing to drop, down to around 175 this term.

But protesters say children as young as 11 would have to spend up to two hours each day on the school bus to Comberton instead of walking to school.

There is also no guarantee that the school transport fees, currently around £333 per term per child, would be funded by Cambridgeshire County Council.

After school activities could also become an issue because of the distance.

There are also fears that the college building could also be at risk.

Currently it is used by the wider community after school hours for social events and sporting activities as well as hosting the village show.

It could take up to two years for the GFS transition to take place with Year 4 pupils staying on at the school from September 2016 if plans to convert to an academy go ahead.

The consultation closes today (Friday).