‘Heavy hearts’ as village school to close

Pupils, parents, and supporters at Horton Primary School who were fighting against the closure.
Pupils, parents, and supporters at Horton Primary School who were fighting against the closure.

A village primary school with just 15 pupils is set to close next year.

Members of North Yorkshire County Council’s executive agreed on Tuesday to publish closure proposals for Horton-in-Ribblesdale Church of England Primary School.

The school has only 15 children on roll, with only one child in nursery, one child in Key Stage 1 and only two boys in the school. There is currently no substantive headteacher.

Members of the executive heard representations made by governors, parents and Friends of the School, including their action plan and intentions to re-advertise for a headteacher.

The executive also discussed the responses to the consultation on closure that had been undertaken by the school’s governing body.

They agreed unanimously to publish statutory proposals to close the school from April 7 2017.

County Coun Arthur Barker said: “The action plan presented by governors, parents and Friends of the School contains a number of potentially valuable enrichment opportunities for children.

“However, such projects are fundamentally dependent on the viability of the school.

“There is no likelihood, given the efforts previously made by governors and the school, that such, activities, however enriching for local children or the wider community, would generate significant numbers of additional children.

“The plan also appears to rely on grant funding from a wide array of different bodies over which there is no certainty of success. It is not clear how this could be sustainable over time.

“Teaching staff, the Diocese and local authority officers have all voiced their concerns about the impact that the very low numbers are having on the children’s personal development, behaviour and welfare.

“They believe that pupils currently have limited opportunities to interact socially and to learn among a wider group of peers.

“We take this decision with a heavy heart as we do everything possible to support our small schools. But our priority must be the children’s education and that it remains fit for purpose to give them the best start for their future lives.”

The statutory proposals will now be published on January 5.

Representation can be made between January 5 and February 2, with a final decision being made by the executive on February 21.