A decision will be made by Derbyshire County Council (DCC) early in the new year which will significantly affect the quality of life of young families in Wirksworth.
DCC planners and children’s services will decide whether children up to the age of 11 will continue to be educated in separate infant and junior schools or whether a new combined primary school will be built to replace and expand primary provision.
Details can be found by searching online for ‘primary provision Wirksworth’.
The question in a nutshell is whether the first experience of school for our four to seven-year-olds should be in a small ‘village-school’ atmosphere on existing sites or in extensive new premises purpose built for the 21st century.
So far, the issue is receiving little attention locally and time is short to respond: the closing date for public consultation is variously given as December 17 or January 20.
No one will really envy planners the second decision they have to make: where to locate a new school.
Now that Derbyshire’s Dales are built over, they are left with Derbyshire’s hills.
Forty years ago, in Matlock, the new secondary school ended up on the edge of town atop a long steep hill. But for the 2020s, in Wirksworth, the location of a new school will affect infants, not teenagers.
It will place extra demands on parents and grandparents, buggy-pushers as well as car drivers.
Of the three options being discussed, the favoured site, Middle Peak Quarry SE, can be fairly described as across from the StarDisc.
A new road is proposed from Middleton Lane and a new steep footpath from West End. Just imagine that trek, ten times a week, in all weathers.
Most of Wirksworth’s existing social housing is south of the town centre and all three proposed sites are to the north. Perhaps one might ask, as an acknowledgement of the distances and gradients involved for those of Wirksworth’s young residents without access to transport, that when planners make their site visit, they at least leave their cars in the market place and walk the rest of the way.
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