The Parish Council meeting on 7th September 2018, attended by the Diocesan representatives, was reported in the November Magazine and more fully in the Parish Council minutes available on their website. I wanted to elaborate and correct some of the comments.
The land on which the school and school house was built was transferred by the Lord of the Manor in 1843 to a trust set up under Jane Scott’s will, using the process provided by an Act of Parliament in William IV’s reign. Up to ½ an acre could be enclosed for the purpose of building a school. The Trust paid a small amount covering the legal fees. If the transfer had used the process of the similar Queen Victoria Act which was enacted before the transfer, the School would have reverted to the Lord of the Manor when it closed and the village would have a full say in what happens to the site! Jane Scott, the retired governess at Elderslie left money to construct a well on the Green and to build a school to educate Ockley children. There wasn’t sufficient money for both so various people supplemented the fund.
The executor of her will was George Arbuthnot of Elderslie her ex employer and he set up a Trust to build the school and school house with the Trustees being the Rector and Churchwardens of Ockley Ecclesiastical Parish.
The Trustees ran the school successfully for many years The Diocese of Guildford, which was only created in 1927, started running village schools under the aegis of the Diocesan Board of Education (DBE) and the Surrey County Council (SCC) Education committee. The SCC bought land next door for the playing field, later the site of school classrooms which were paid for by local fundraising with a contribution from DBE.
Some years ago Ockley School was amalgamated with Capel Broadwood School to form Scott-Broadwood and to save administrative expenses. Now that the Ockley site is closed, the DBE is telling the Trustees that they are not fulfilling the conditions of the Trust, namely the education of Ockley children. Indeed they queried whether the School house can be let commercially as it is because it must be used to house a school master or mistress. The DBE also says that if no suitable acceptable use can be found for the school buildings they will be transferred to the DBE under section 554 of the 1994 Education Act presumably for the benefit of the Diocese.
Negotiations are continuing to find a suitable use for the school buildings. It might be possible to apply to the Charity Commission to vary the terms 13 of the Trust, a similar situation occurred in Dunsfold and the Charity Commission allowed a ‘fully regulated Scheme for the charity following representations from the public’. In that instance the Secretary of State for Education refused the section 554 order and 7 years after the school buildings became vacant the Charity Commission agreed a scheme to allow the DBE to lease (but not sell) the property either at full or nominal rent to allow it to be used for educational purposes.
An extract from a letter concerning the immediate future of the site:
I am writing on behalf of the Secretary of State for Education to thank you for applying to establish a free school in Surrey, and for the effort, dedication and commitment shown by you and your colleagues in doing so.
We regret to inform you that on this occasion, we will not be taking your application further.
Our research showed that there was no need to open a new school in this local area as there are surplus places. The two neighbouring planning areas do not have significant shortfalls and both have a pipeline free schools that would accommodate any need arising in those areas.
We want to thank you and your colleagues again for your work and efforts on this application.