360-year-old school in Yorkshire Dales to close as numbers shrink to just five

School leaders say they have taken a decision with "heavy hearts" to close a 360-year-old school in the heart of the Yorkshire Dales.

The 360-year-old school will close this summer
The 360-year-old school will close this summer

Arkengarthdale Church of England Primary School will close this summer as numbers of children attending have fallen to just five.

“We took this step with very heavy hearts, “said Charles Cody, Arkengarthdale’s Chair of Governors, “as nobody wants to see the closure of a village school, especially one that is the heart of this small community and has been with us for 360 years.

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"But there are only five children on roll and we simply do not have numbers of children in the dale and the area to keep this school open."

Arkengarthdale in the Yorkshire Dales

Coun Patrick Mulligan said it was a "very sad" day but there were "simply not the children out there" to keep the school going.

He added; “As a county council we are only too aware of the crucial role village schools play in the life of their communities and we are very committed to their support. 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 this case we had to act in the interests of the school’s children.”

The school’s governing body wrote last year to request the county council begin consulting on a proposal to close the school at the end of the current academic year.

Arkengarthdale Primary School Chair of Governors Charles Cody

Children from the school will go to Reeth Community Primary School, 3.5 miles away from September.

In July the school will celebrate its 360-year-old historyIn a bid to save the school the Upper Dales Community Land Trust recently secured planning approval for the very first social housing in the dale.

County councillor John Blackie, chair of the trust, said the plans were intended to provide housing for young families.

He reluctantly accepted it was impossible to fight to keep the school open given the very low numbers on roll predicted for the next two years.

He said: “We had hoped that the four affordable houses to rent in perpetuity, which are soon to be built and will be owned by the local community, would provide some new entrants but alas it seems it will be too late; but at least the Dale will benefit from having some young families in its midst.

"All credit to all those involved with the School for trying their very best to keep it open and I am grateful to the County Council for its patience in waiting to see if numbers would recover. "This is a very black day for the Upper Dales.”