Consultation on a proposal to close Clapham Church of England Voluntary Controlled Primary School

We have decided to consult on a proposal to close Clapham Church of England Voluntary Controlled Primary School.

The current position

At a meeting on 4 November 2019 the Governing Body of Clapham CE VC Primary School voted to request that we begin consulting on a proposal to close the school at the end of the current academic year. Our officers and the Diocese agree that this is in the best interests of current and future pupils from Clapham because numbers have fallen to a level where it will be difficult to provide a high quality of education for pupils in the long term. We are therefore now consulting on the proposal to close the school with effect from 31 August 2020. 

Background

Pupil numbers at the school have been falling, reducing from 42 on roll in 2014/15 to 28 at the start of the 2018/19 academic year. The drop in numbers increased concern around the financial sustainability of the school and its ability to provide good quality education. On 5 February 2019 Executive Members gave approval to progress a consultation on a proposed closure of Clapham CE VC Primary School with effect from 31 August 2019. During the consultation period a number of responses were received including a detailed response from the Governing Body showing a recovery plan, which they felt, along with ongoing community support, could see the school recover to a position that would enable the school to stay open.  

At a meeting on 30 April 2019 the Executive agreed that the proposal to cease to maintain Clapham CE VC Primary School should be stopped to allow the Governing Body to implement their recovery plan, with a formal review of the position scheduled for the end of the spring term 2020. 

Since the April Executive meeting the school has been inspected by Ofsted and placed in special measures. The publication of the recent inspection result in September has led to a further decline in pupil numbers making the Governing Body’s recovery plan no longer viable. This led to the Governing Body requesting a consultation on a proposed closure. 

This is a wholly new consultation and focuses on four key areas of concern:

  • Low pupil numbers
  • Breadth of curriculum
  • The school's financial position
  • Leadership 

The critical concern is the fall in pupil numbers, which would inevitably result in an inability to provide the necessary breadth of curriculum experience and would also irrevocably undermine the school’s future financial position. 

Pupil Numbers

At the start of the 2019/20 academic year there were 25 pupils on roll. This is well below the capacity of the school – which is designed to accommodate up to 59 pupils if all spaces are in use. Since September there has been a further fall in numbers and in November 2019 the school had ten pupils on roll. Forecasts indicate that these numbers will not recover significantly in the longer term. 

In these circumstances, it would be difficult to deliver and sustain quality education.   

Total roll numbers:

  • 2014/15 – 42
  • 2015/16 – 39
  • 2016/17 – 34
  • 2017/18 – 27
  • 2018/19 – 28
  • 2019/20 – 25 (at the start of the year, dropping to 10 in November) 

Pupil numbers as at 7 January 2020

Reception 0
Year 1 0
Year 2 0
Year 3 3
Year 4 0
Year 5 2
Year 6 4
Total 9

Latest forecast information predicts only one new reception aged starter in 2020/21. This combined with the progressive reduction in existing year groups results in a forecast total roll of six in 2020/21. 

Breadth of curriculum

We have already identified concerns around the school’s ability to meet the educational need of children with such small numbers. As numbers on roll continue to fall it will be increasingly difficult to provide the remaining pupils with access to the full range of experiences they need, particularly opportunities for working and playing with children their own age.  

The Ofsted inspection in June judged the school to be inadequate in all areas. 

The financial position

Pupil numbers determine the school budget. Examination of the predicted financial position has led to concerns about the school’s ability to provide a good quality of education. The school is projecting in year deficits of £46,000 in 2020/21 and £77,900 in 2021/22, and cumulative deficit of £202,600 by the end of that year. These were based on pupil assumptions at the time of 27 in 2019/20 and 22 in 2020/21, so the position will deteriorate further as pupil numbers fall with no reasonable prospect of financial recovery. 

Leadership

Previous attempts to recruit a substantive headteacher or identify another school prepared to share a headteacher have not proved possible. With effect from September 2019, an Executive Headteacher from The Priestley Multi Academy Trust has been appointed to oversee school leadership. A full time Head of School from the MAT has also been appointed for this school year. We are currently providing temporary financial support to meet the cost of the Executive Headteacher, but this is not sustainable. 

The proposal

For the reasons outlined above it is proposed that Clapham CE VC Primary School should close with effect from 31 August 2020. 

The nearest Church of England school, two miles from Clapham, is Austwick CE VA Primary School. There is also, Ingleton Primary School which is 4.7 miles from Clapham, Bentham CP School at 5.5 miles, Giggleswick Primary School at 5.8 miles, Settle CE Primary at 6.9 miles and Long Preston VA School at 9.7 miles away. 

It is proposed that the catchment areas of both Austwick CE VA Primary School and Bentham CP School are expanded to include the current Clapham catchment area. We would welcome consultees’ views on the proposed catchment area extension.  

For children currently at Clapham CE VC Primary School, we will work with each family to try to meet their individual preferences for other schools regardless of the catchment area defined. Staff and governors at Clapham CE VC Primary School are also committed to supporting families in their choice of school and in making a smooth transition.  

Eligibility for home-to-school transport will be determined in line with our current home-to-school transport policy and procedures, based on travel distances from each child’s home address and individual circumstances.   

Parents have a right to express a preference for any school and, in the case of community and voluntary controlled schools, the Local Authority is the admissions authority. In the case of Voluntary Aided schools, the Governing Body is the Admissions Authority. 

All of the local schools have indicated a willingness to admit pupils potentially displaced from Clapham School, subject to available capacity and resources being available for the specific year groups concerned. Where a child attends a school, which is not their normal school or nearest school, parents are normally responsible for making transport arrangements.    

Our Admissions Team is always happy to give advice to parents – please contact Vickie Hemming-Allen on 01609 535481 or Lisa Herdman on 01609 534953

The school site

The school building is not owned by ourselves, it is held on an implied Trust for the purposes of a school. The playing field is leased in by ourselves from a private landowner. Decisions about the future use of the school buildings and playing field will be taken by the owners after the closure proposal has been determined. 

What happens next?

Your views about this proposal are welcomed. You can either complete and return the response sheet, or submit an online response. Paper responses should be returned to: FREEPOST RTKE-RKAY-CUJS Clapham, Strategic Planning,  North Yorkshire County Council, County Hall, Northallerton DL7 8AE 

Take part in our survey

Public Meeting

There will be a public meeting on Tuesday, 4 February at 6.30pm at Clapham CE VC Primary School, Lancaster, LA2 8EJ.


Closing Date

The closing date for responses is Friday, 28 February 2020. All responses to the consultation received by this date will be considered by our Executive on 24 March 2020. If the County Council’s Executive decides to proceed with the closure proposal, then statutory notices would be published in the local press on 20 April 2020. These notices provide a further four weeks for representations to be made. A final decision would then be made by our Executive on 9 June 2020. If agreed the school would close on 31 August 2020. 

Anticipated Key Dates
Consultation Opens 10 January 2020 
Public meeting at the school  4 February 2020
Consultation closes 28 February 2020 
County Council’s Executive considers consultation response  24 March 2020
Statutory Notices published (4 weeks for representations to be made)  20 April 2020
Final decision by County Council’s Executive  9 June 2020
Proposed school closure date 31 August 2020

Consultation Document

 Download the consultation document. (pdf / 754 KB)

Other useful information

Schools Table
  Clapham CE Austwick CE Ingleton Primary Bentham CP Giggleswick Primary Settle Primary Long Preston VA 
Distance from Clapham CE School by road  NA 2.0 miles 4.7 miles 5.5 miles 5.8 miles 6.9 miles 9.7 miles
Overall judgement at last Ofsted Inspection* Inadequate June 2019  Good May 2019  Good June 2016 Good March 2016 Good January 2017 Good  January 2016 Good February 2017
Net Capacity (places available at the school) 56 70 180 210 90 210 84
Current Pupil Roll 9 60 166 109 65 175 58
Current Capacity -/ + +47 +10 +14 +106 +25 +35 +26
Pupil Roll 2020/21 6 60 167 110 66 174 57
Pupil Roll 2021/2 6 62 161 111 71 186 62
Pupil Roll 2022/2 8 66 164 112 71 188 60
Pupil Roll 2023/24 7 69 160 116 72 190 62
Pupil Roll 2024/25 9 71 156 115 74 192 64

Potential additional pupils from housing **

 
Pupils from outstanding permissions by 2024/25  8 1 14 14 3 18 3
Potential pupils from future housing – Excluding Local Plan  1 0 0 0 0 0 0

* There are several individual judgements which make up the overall outcome; parents are advised to consider the whole of the Ofsted report

**Based on one primary-aged pupil from every four houses