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Plans to close Dales primary move forward

Plans to close Dales primary move forward

Published at 6:01am 29th November 2016. (Updated at 1:40pm 29th November 2016)

North Yorkshire County Council's Executive will next week consider a recommendation to publish closure proposals for Horton-in-Ribblesdale Primary School. 

Although the school has collaborated with Austwick and Clapham primary schools, both the County Council’s Children and Young People’s Service and the Diocese of Leeds believe that the school in the long term will be unable to provide the social and educational breadth and quality which children need and will struggle to be financially sustainable.

The school has 15 children on roll, no new entrants this year and is yet to recruit a new headteacher.

In a consultation this autumn about school closure carried out by Horton’s Governors, staff at the school said they were concerned about the impact of falling numbers: "We are very concerned about the impact that this is having on the children’s personal development, behaviour and welfare. The low numbers of children is having an impact on the ability of teachers to deliver an age appropriate curriculum."

Governors decided last week not to publish closure notices and announced their intention to seek a further interim headteacher for two terms and to re-advertise for a permanent headteacher.

County Councillor Arthur Barker, North Yorkshire's Executive Member for Schools, said: "We are taking forward this proposal, along with the Diocese, with a very heavy heart. Nobody likes to see the closure of a village school and North Yorkshire works very hard with its small schools to find sustainable solutions to keep them going. 

"We have supported Horton-in-Ribblesdale to find alternative arrangements, but sadly these have not worked out and our priority must be the children and their entitlement to the highest quality of teaching and learning throughout their schooling."

Parents have vowed to fight the closure.

The County Council and the Diocese say they are well aware of local opposition to the proposal and concern about the impact of school closures on rural communities. 

It's proposed that if Horton-in-Ribblesdale Primary closes, the area currently served by the school will be served by Austwick Church of England Primary School, five miles away, which is also judged as outstanding. 

If the Executive agrees on 6 December to publish statutory closure notices for the school, there will be a 28-day representation period for parents and other stakeholders to present their views.

Members would then take a final decision on 31 January on whether to close Horton-in-Ribblesdale next April.