A consultation on closure of a small North Yorkshire primary school will now go ahead following a decision this week.
North Yorkshire has agreed to consult after being approached by governors of Clapham Church of England Primary School which currently has ten pupils. From September 2020, that number is expected to reduce to six.
The school faces multiple challenges. Earlier this year Clapham was rated inadequate following an Ofsted inspection and is also facing severe financial pressures, with a predicted deficit of more than £250,000.
Governors said the school’s headteacher and teaching staff were making the changes needed to come out of special measures, but the school was simply no longer viable. The Ofsted rating - coupled with the six-figure deficit – meant it unlikely a school or academy sponsor would be willing to enter into a potential partnership.
“We take this step with great sadness”, said County Councillor Patrick Mulligan, North Yorkshire’s Executive Member for Education and Skills. “Many people, key members of the community, families, stakeholders and professional colleagues have fought long and hard to find solutions to keep Clapham school viable.
“But with a cluster of good primary schools nearby, maintaining pupil numbers proved difficult.
“We know village schools play an incredibly important role in communities and will always go the extra mile to keep them going wherever possible. North Yorkshire has more small schools than any other authority in England and more than 50 schools with fewer than 50 pupils.
“We have to consider whether, in the circumstances, keeping this school open is in the best interests of local children, hence we will be consulting over its closure.”
There will be opportunity for stakeholders to express their views on the overall situation as part of the required process and before any final decision is taken
The county council has put in place an interim executive board to support staff to bring about necessary and rapid improvement in standards for children in the school. Governors on the board have stated: “While the decision to consult on closure is obviously very sad and disappointing for the school and local community we as governors are continuing to make sure that the remaining pupils have the best possible education in a safe and nurturing environment for the rest of this academic year. That will continue to be our priority over the next few months.
The public consultation on closure is due to commence on 10 January.