Parents have taken part in a peaceful protest following plans to replace a New Forest school's popular headteacher.

Around a dozen staunch supporters of Zoe Doyle, of Fawley Infant School, waved placards outside the school gates yesterday as they criticised plans to appoint a joint headteacher in the new year. 

It comes as the trust which runs the school confirmed it is to restructure to protect the school from closure as pupil numbers have fallen to just 41.

READ MORE: Clean sweep for Hampshire infant school rated outstanding in all areas by Ofsted

Mrs Doyle, singled out for praise by Ofsted inspectors in March, will take voluntary redundancy at the end of the year and Tariq Sasso, the principal at Blackfield Primary School, will lead both schools. 

Daily Echo: Tariq Sasso will lead Fawley Infant School in addition to Blackfield Primary School


But many parents are opposed to the plans. 

Serena Seymour said: "It just seems madness that she's going. Most of us chose this school based on Mrs Doyle and her experience and expertise with special needs children.

"We know numbers are back up to 54 for next year's intake and we think it's a crazy decision. We don't feel our voices have been heard."

Daily Echo:

Maria Laidlaw, who has a child in each school, added: "Our children will suffer. Every school in the land has a headteacher and we want Mrs Doyle for this school. She goes out of her way with every child in her care and every family.

"She's opened up so many facilities and done a brilliant job at the school. 

"The way this has been handled has been underhanded and it's now making me question my trust in the whole partnership."

On the new appointment, Claire Lowe, chief executive of Inspire Learning Partnership, told the Daily Echo: "Following a recruitment process to appoint a single Executive Principal to lead Blackfield Primary School and Fawley Infant School, Tariq Sasso, the current Principal at Blackfield, has been successfully appointed and starts in post from 1st January 2024.

"Between now and the end of this term, Mr Sasso will begin working with Amanda Johnston, Director of Primary Education, as part of a handover process, and we wish the Principal of Fawley every success in her onward journey.

"We recently wrote to parents and carers to inform them of the Trust’s intention to appoint a single Executive Principal to lead both Blackfield and Fawley from next May.  

"This is because pupil numbers have fallen to 41, below half this academic year, which means that, understandably, we cannot sustain a single Principal at Fawley.

"The school is funded based upon the number of pupils who are on roll and, to ensure that pupils continue to receive high quality education and support, we have prioritised keeping the resources that we have available to us, at the frontline, within the classroom.

"Any form of change can feel unsettling but would like to assure every one of our best interests for the pupils, parents and staff at Fawley always.

"Fawley is a wonderful school, which provides excellent, nurturing care and education for its pupils and, with the support of everyone, this will not change."