Closure proposal for village primary school with no pupils enrolled

This story was published 17 January 2023

We are proposing to close a primary school due to falling pupil numbers as it will have no pupils enrolled from the next academic year.

A child writing

The governing body of Hovingham CE VC Primary School, in Ryedale, reluctantly approached the county council during the autumn of last year to consult on a proposal to close the facility, after its remaining pupils transferred to other schools.

There are currently 44 pupils of primary school age living within Hovingham’s catchment area, who attend 12 different schools in the surrounding area.

Since the 2017/2018 academic year, there had been a downward trend of pupil numbers at the school, which fell from 33 in May 2020 to 24 in May 2021 and then to seven in May 2022. All the children had transferred to other schools by the start of the new academic year in 2022.

The school is federated with St Hilda’s CE Primary School, Ampleforth, and shares a governing body and headteacher.

The schools’ headteacher post also became vacant in August last year and the post was temporarily covered by the executive headteacher of Foston, Terrington and Stillington schools.

From January this year, the Ryedale Learning Trust began to provide leadership to Hovingham and St Hilda’s, with the intention of bringing both schools into their multi-academy trust.

The trust held an open event in December supported by a county council admissions officer to encourage more families to enrol their children at Hovingham School.

Despite this, it currently remains the case that no children are expected to be on roll at Hovingham School, either during the remainder of the current academic year or next year.

Assistant director for education and skills, Amanda Newbold, said: “We know the school has been a long-standing institution in the community and will be greatly missed by local people if it is to close.

“North Yorkshire maintains more small, rural schools than any other local authority in the country. We work closely with these schools and their communities. There is a presumption against the closure of rural schools unless there is a strong case to do so and proposing the closure of a rural school is never made lightly.”

The executive is due to consider the response to the recent public consultation at its meeting on 24 January. Council officers are recommending members approve publication of proposals to close the school at the end of the current term.

If approved, there would be a further four weeks for representations to be made before a final decision is set be taken by the council’s executive in March.