Residents have described the proposed closure of a historic secondary school in North Yorkshire as indictivie of “the death of the village”.
Horton-in-Ribblesdale School has served generations of families in the Yorkshire Dales since it was founded in 1725.
But what is described as the last school in the valley is now under threat, with parents fearing its closure will rip the community apart. Next week North Yorkshire County Council’s executive will consider a recommendation to publish closure proposals for Horton after it was argued that the school will struggle to remain financially stable.
Currently it does not have a permenant headteacher and has just 15 children on roll with no new entrants this year.
Of those students, there is one child in nursery, one child in Key Stage 1 and two boys in the school.
And in a consultation this autumn about the closure carried out by the governors, staff at the school stated they were concerned that falling numbers could have a detrimental effect on the teachers’ ability to deliver an age appropriate curriculum.
But residents have criticised the decision saying it will drive away young people from the village and consequently signal its demise.
Coun Phillip Sutcliffe of Horton-in-Ribblesdale Parish Council said: “The village is dying. The local shop has already closed down and the post office is gone.
“As it stands local businesses cannot thrive and there are not enough jobs in the area for young people. If the school is to close it would just be another nail in the coffin. We need young people and children to help Horton-in-Ribblesdale thrive and prevent it from becoming a retirement village.”
Although the school was rated outstanding by Ofsted in 2010, the Council believes that without secure leadership, this rating is at risk.
And the falling numbers mean the school will carry forward a deficit which will grow in future years to more than £60,000.
Arthur Barker, North Yorkshire Council’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.
“We have supported Horton-in-Ribblesdale to find alternative arrangements but sadly these have not worked out and our priority must be the children.”
Parents and Friends of Horton School Group met yesterday to discuss how the campaign can go forward. Parent Jonty Rhodes, said: “The parents don’t want the school to close and the children don’t want to leave. I have two children at Horton and they love it. The proposed plan is to close the school at the end of the financial year in April.
“That is in the middle of the school year and a number of children will have their SATs coming up - it is unfair to move them at such a time.”