I don't half get some interesting problems lobbed at me from time to time. Matthew Slater rang to ask where he could get information on the impact that the loss of a local school would have on its village.

Matthew is chairman of a community action group in the North Cornish village of St Mabyn (pop. circa 500) in the district of Bodmin. Matthew got my contact details from Laura and Joe Brown, who run St Mabyn Village Stores, which is doubling as headquarters for the campaign at the moment.

Two schools are threatened with closure, the other being in the nearby picturesque village of St Tudy. The plan, at discussion stage, is to provide one school somewhere between the two, "in the middle of nowhere".

At the moment the two villages have what Matthew describes as "the Holy Trinity" in that they both have a village shop, a pub and a school. Both villages fear that losing their schools represents the first step on the slippery slope to oblivion. "We think it will destroy our villages," he says. "Finding information is like pulling teeth."

A tall order. I recommended contacting the Rural Shops Alliance which must have run into this scenario before, and the National Office of Statistics. I also thought it might be an idea to consider creating a community school. There is no law against it. Parents can home school if they like and some villages have resorted to community stores as the Village Retail Services Association will attest (and it's currently a hot topic on The Archers). So, why not a community-run school?

Matthew went away to consider it. Meanwhile, does anyone have any information or ideas that I can pass on to these two villages?

Topics