Determined parents at a school set to be to closed by the council say they are to press ahead with their plans regardless - and are interviewing for a new headteacher on Monday.
North Yorkshire County Council (NYCC) announced yesterday it is to proceed with plans to close the tiny Church of England school in Horton-in Ribblesdale near Settle. With just 15 children on the roll, including one in nursery, one in Key Stage 1 and just two boys, the school has struggled to secure a headteacher.
But now, after the publicity surrounding its closure put the school firmly in the public eye, parents and governors say they have been approached by several new applicants. And, with a four-week window to comment on the plans, they say they are still confident the school can be saved.
“There’s been an enormous amount of support from the community,” said Nicky Rhodes, co-chair of the school governors. “We thought we put a robust plan forward. We are still going to interview for a headteacher on Monday. We’ve had a number of applicants - all who are well aware of what’s happening. Their positivity is amazing. The school has so much to offer. The entire community feels that the loss of the school would signal the end of the village. This is just so wrong.”
NYCC’s executive said it listened carefully to action plans put forward by villagers, but has decided unanimously to publish statutory proposals to close the school from April next year.
County Coun Arthur Barker said there was no likelihood, given previous efforts, that any activities 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,” he said. “It is not clear how this could be sustainable over time.”
There were concerns about the impact of low pupil numbers on children’s development, he said.
“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.”
Statutory proposals will be published on January 5, with comments invited until February 2. A final decision will be made on February 21.