Diana Ross: Upside DowniTunesAmazon

Diana Ross: Upside DowniTunesAmazon

School closure plans backed by councillors

School closure plans backed by councillors

Published at 5:08pm 6th December 2016. (Updated at 2:32pm 7th December 2016)

A group of parents are getting ready to fight the closure of a Dales school.

North Yorkshire County Council's Executive has agreed to move forward with proposals to shut Horton-in-Ribblesdale Primary.

The school has only 15 children on roll and no headteacher.

The Executive also discussed the responses to the consultation on closure that had been undertaken by the School’s Governing Body. Following careful consideration, the Executive agreed unanimously to publish statutory proposals to close the school from 7 April 2017.

County Councillor Arthur Barker said, “The Action Plan presented by governors, parents and Friends of the School contains a number of potentially valuable enrichment opportunities for children. However, such projects are fundamentally dependent on the viability of the school.

“There is no likelihood, given the efforts previously made by governors and the school, that such, activities, however enriching for local children or the wider community, would generate significant numbers of additional children.

“The plan also appears to rely on grant funding from a wide array of different bodies over which there is no certainty of success. It is not clear how this could be sustainable over time.

“Teaching staff, the Diocese and Local Authority Officers have all voiced their concerns about the impact that the very low numbers are having on the children’s personal development, behaviour and welfare. They believe that pupils currently have limited opportunities to interact socially and to learn among a wider group of peers.

“We take this decision with a heavy heart as we do everything possible to support our small schools.  But our priority must be the children’s education and that it remains fit for purpose to give them the best start for their future lives.”

Mindful of concerns raised about the representation period potentially taking place over the Christmas holidays, the Executive decided that statutory proposals will be published on 5th January instead of 22nd December. 

People have until the 2nd February to take part in the consultation, with a final decision being made by the Executive on 21st February. 

Jonty Rhodes, chair of the Friends of Horton School, who are gathering support for their campaign to save the school, said: "If you close the school, you're closing Horton-in-Ribblesdale. I can't see why many families with young children would want to move here, the place will just end up a retirement village.

"It's not about small numbers and high teacher to pupil ratios, it's just about the kids looking after each other. And attending the village school in the village that they live in."

Jonty, who has two children at the school, added: "It's not just about my children. They're looking at closing the school by the end of the financial year to wrap it all up nice and neatly irrespective of what impact that has on the children. There'll be Year 6 children who'll be starting their SATs a few weeks after moving to a new school, which can't be good for them."

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.