Governors request consultation to close Stillington primary school

Governors of Stillington Community Primary School have voted to seek to consult on the school’s closure after numbers of children attending have fallen to 18.

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The school’s governing body has now written to North Yorkshire’s Director of the Children and Young People’s Service, Stuart Carlton, to request the county council begin consulting on a proposal to close the school at the end of the current academic year.

The school’s Chair of Governors, Corinne Cross, has written to, and met with, parents to deliver the news that numbers in the school have fallen to an unsustainable level, that no academy sponsor has proved to be willing to take the school on and that therefore permanent leadership cannot be secured. 

“Whilst none of the issues facing the school will be news to parents, we appreciate that the Governing Board’s decision to request consultation on closure may come as a considerable shock. We feel, at this point that we have exhausted all options open to us as a Governing Board which could secure the future of the school,” said Mrs Cross. “We take this step with very heavy hearts but with our children’s best interests in mind; nobody wants to see the closure of our village school.  

It is likely that approval to consult on closure at the end of the school year will be decided by the Executive member in October. 

Stuart Carlton said the governing body’s decision was incredibly sad, but taken in the best interests of the school’s current children. He said: “We know that village schools are very dear to their communities and play a crucial role.  We are very committed to their support and always go the extra mile to seek solutions to keep them going. The fact the county has over 50 schools with fewer than 50 pupils is a sign of this commitment. Indeed North Yorkshire has more small schools than any other authority in England.

“But in the case of Stillington primary, which went into special measures in 2016, an academy sponsor identified by the Regional Schools Commissioner, declined to take the school on. Continuing difficulties have led to a second special measures Ofsted judgement and the school is therefore facing extremely challenging circumstances. It now seems extremely unlikely that the RSC will be able to identify a willing sponsor.

“This decision to seek consultation will come as a blow to families with children at the school as they are committed and loyal.  But with no academy sponsor and the fact some village parents choose to send their children elsewhere, it is difficult to see a viable long-term future for the school.”  

Should the consultation be approved 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.”

This story was published 25 September 2019