No school for 23 days out of 28

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Parents in Chorley will be tearing their hair out next month, as schoolchildren are set to get 23 days off in the space of just 28.

With Easter, bank holidays, the Royal wedding and local government elections falling so close to each other this year, some pupils will only be in class for five days in four weeks.

Twenty-three schools across the borough are closing on May 5 so that people can visit polling stations based in the halls and classrooms between 7am and 10pm, to vote in the local authority elections and the national referendum.

Along with the two-week Easter break from April 11 to April 26, including Good Friday on April 22 and Easter Monday on April 25, the Royal wedding between Prince William and Kate Middleton on April 29, the May Day bank holiday on May 2, and weekends, this means that pupils will hardly be in school for the four-week period.

Twenty-six schools across the borough have been chosen as polling station sites, and 23 of those are closing to students as a result, using the opportunity to have in-service teacher training days, known as INSET days.

Adlington Primary School, All Saints CE Primary School, Anderton Primary School, Balshaw Lane Primary School, Bretherton Endowed CE Primary School, Brindle Gregson Lane Primary School, Coppull Parish CE Primary School, Duke Street Primary School, Eccleston Primary School, Gillibrand Primary School, Highfield Primary School, Primrose Hill Primary School, Sacred Heart RC Primary School, St George’s CE Primary School, St Gregory’s Catholic Primary School, St James’ CE Primary School, St Joseph’s RC Primary School, St Laurence’s CE Primary School, St Mary’s Catholic Primary School, St Mary’s CE Primary School, St Oswald’s RC School, St Peter’s CE Primary School and Withnell Fold Primary School will all be shut for the day on May 5.

Coun Kevin Joyce, who oversees elections for Chorley Council, said: “We have every sympathy with the schools this year in particular, because of the timings of the bank holidays. However, we have to have enough polling stations so that all our electors can vote.

“We do use alternatives to schools wherever possible and indeed this year we have moved out of one school into an alternative venue, so it is something we look at on a regular basis.

“If they wish, we do work with the schools to see if it is possible for them to remain open, for example by using a room with a separate entrance, but not all schools are able to or even want to remain open whilst a part of the school is being used for voting.”

There are a number of reasons for some schools having to shut. Anderton Primary is not big enough, and Bretherton Endowed said it’s not possible for the children to stay for the day, due to health and safety reasons.

Some schools are able to stay open because they have earmarked rooms that are separate from the main area, such as Abbey Village Primary School and St Chad’s RC Primary School.

Clayton-le-Woods Primary School is also able to remain open for the day, because the infant pupils are on a class trip, and the polling station will be based in their classrooms.

Bob Stott, Lancashire County Council’s director for universal and prevention services, said: “The Easter break and the May Day holiday fall close to each other this year and now, between the two, there is the bank holiday which has been declared for the royal wedding.

“In addition, some schools are being used as polling stations for the local government elections on May 5.

“These are issues which are outside our control but schools which are used as polling stations are expected to plan ahead and use polling day for teacher training to minimise disruption.”