Act Now

To secure a future for Ripley School

Object by Friday 20th May or lose the school forever

3rd May 2022, 1pm
What has changed recently?

Guildford Diocese recently applied to the Dept. for Education for a Section 554 (Section 554 of the Education Act 1996). Their aim is to take control of the site, which would allow them to sell it.

The site is currently owned by a Trust, with the Trustees based in the village. Since the old school closed the Trustees and the Friends of Ripley Primary School group have maintained the site and used it to continue providing education and community activities.

In April 2022 the Dept. for Education announced it was considering this application and that the deadline for objections to this application is Friday 20th May.

What happens if the Section 554 is approved?
The Trust will be dissolved and the site will be given to Guildford Diocesan Board of Education. As the new owners they can do what they want: they were instrumental in closing the previous school, and have no intention of running a primary school on the site. The Diocese could sell the site.
What will happen if the Section 554 is not approved?
If the Section 554 is rejected, the Trustees would be allowed to ask the Charities Commission for permission to alter the wording on the Trust to explicitly state that a non-Church of England primary school is allowed to operate from the site. The current wording is not clear on this, which is one of the main reasons it hasn't happened.

The Charities Commission will not consider this change until the Section 554 is rejected.

What should I do?

State your objection to the Section 554 application for Ripley School, and ask that the site is kept for education purposes.

or write to
School Assets Team Education Funding Agency Bishopsgate House Darlington DL1 5QE
What should I say?
Here are some points you might like to consider in your objection:
★ Houses are being built. More places will be needed

For Garlick’s Arch alone Surrey County Council has confirmed that 126 additional primary school places will be needed and 36 Pre-school places (see Surrey County Council Education Infrastructure CIL Justification Statement, Page 4 - here's a local copy).

Bulge classes or temporary classes are not the answer - the new housing is not temporary, it will bring a permanent increase in the number of school places required locally.

It's not just Garlick’s Arch - there is a great deal more planned housing. Details to follow

★ We don’t want Send School to expand
Surrey County Council have stated that
The need for additional school places that will arise from the new homes, will be met by the provision of bulge class accommodation ... Bulge provision is achievable at any of the local schools subject to appropriate agreements with the schools, including Send CE Primary School.

That quote is from correpondence submitted as part of the Section 106 application for Garlicks Arch. Here's a direct link and a local copy.

★ School Places are already limited
There are 13 primary schools within a 3-mile radius of the Ripley School Site. The 2013 National Audit Office report on Capital Funding for new school places (paragraph 1.16) states:
... on average 5 per cent was the bare minimum needed for authorities to meet their statutory duty with operational flexibility, while enabling parents to have some choice of schools.

On average in our area, spare capacity is below this bare minimum of 5%. Parents have very limited options when looking for school places locally.

It is worth remembering that before the old school closed it had between 150 and 170 pupils on average. It was not a small school. There are enough children living locally to attain these numbers again, even before considering additional housing.

Any statement made regarding there being a current surplus of local school places is simply incorrect.
★ Ripley Primary School is well maintained and is ready to go
The school has brand new classrooms, three of which were completely refurbished after the old school closed. It has a well equipped playground and a larger school field than most local schools. The site is maintained by volunteers at no cost to local or central government (although Surrey County Council mows the playing field).

We have a robust plan to use the site for Primary Education from September 2024, and until then we will continue using the site for valuable community activities. We are also in discussions with SCC regarding short-term use of the site from Sept 2022 for much needed temporary special educational needs until the site is opened.

It would be a colossal waste of money to scrap these resources.
★ Use by The Raleigh due to COVID
During the pandemic the site was used by the nearby Raleigh School as temporary classrooms, to allow for smaller class sizes and enabling 60 additional children to return to school. The site managers worked hard to enable this, against the strenuous objections made by Guildford Diocese who demanded (among other things) an independent audit of the suitability of the school site for schooling. The auditor stated:
... some facilities are in a better state of repair than other educational establishments that are operating. 

★ Continuity for the Pre-school on the site
Ripley Pre-school has operated from the site for almost 20 years, providing vital early-years education for local children from 2.5 years old. If the application is approved, the future of the Pre-school would be uncertain.
★ Current Community Use

The school is currently hired out most evenings and weekends for community activities.

As well as the Pre-school, the site hosts dance classes, the Overs-60's club, the local History Society, Mums and Toddlers groups, yoga classes, tennis for children, drama clubs, coding clubs, all managed with the goal of continuing to provide educational support for the village, in line with the goals of the Trust.

★ Asset of Community Value

The school site is registered as an Asset of Community Value with the Borough Council. The only objection made against this registration was by Surrey County Council, who own the playing fields (the school buildings are on land owned by the Trust).

This designation shows the strength of support for the site in the village.

Will it work?

We wouldn't ask if we didn't think it was possible. A previous Section 554 application was rejected, also against Guildford Diocese (Dunsfold School). In that case the Vicar and the trustees supported the closure, although the community was against it. The level of objection by the community played a big part in getting the application rejected.

Here in Ripley, the Vicar, Trustees, Parish Council and community are all against it.

The Borough Council has expressed support for a school on this site. There is considerable local planning that will make the need for a new school more likely, and a local Multi Academy Trust is very interested in using the site.

We have a robust plan, but we need your support now. Let’s show the Department for Education and the Diocese that we say no to the end of our village school.

Thank you for your interest and support. If you want to get in contact, email us at