Concerns have been raised that saving a rural Isle of Wight elementary school could cost every child’s education on the island.

The Isle of Wight Council announced this week that Chillerton and Rookley Primary School will be open as a sustainable, financial model for delivery of high-quality education in small, rural schools.

Speaking at the corporate scrutiny committee on Tuesday, Councillor Debbie Andre, a cabinet member for children’s education, said she regretted the time it had taken to make the decision but the cabinet needed to be sure they looked at every possibility. She said:

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“This is about children, their education and getting it right. We were not prepared to rush into a decision. “

Councillor Joe Robertson questioned whether Cllr Andre accepted indecision to lead pupil numbers at Chillerton and Rookley fell from 34 to 15. Cllr Andre said she accepted uncertainty around the future of a school would inevitably affect parents’ choice but it was imperative they took necessary Time to make the right decision. She was confident the model existed for smaller rural schools and was working up options.

Councillor Chris Quirk, a member of the scrutiny committee, said he was skeptical the cabinet could maintain a number of schools without cutting its budget per pupil across the board. His concerns were echoed by other members of the committee, who felt that keeping the school open could make every child’s education on the island as funding would cut and spread thinly.

Cllr Andre however, convinced the committee they were looking at this as a whole island approach.

Councillor Richard Quigley, chair, said the following debate, while it was good news for quite a few families and children, was not necessarily good news coming down the line so they needed to be mindful of how they approach this.

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