School’s bid to move to bigger site in Harrogate

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Education chiefs have been accused of lacking a clear strategy amid suggestions a small school in rural Nidderdale could be reopened if a second primary were to be transferred to its site.

Burnt Yates Primary School, with just 12 pupils, closed last year despite a campaign to save it, with students transferred to settings in surrounding villages.

Now, three miles down the road, school services in the village of Bishop Thornton are facing review as governors consider a move.

They have been offered first use of the now vacant building, on a bigger and more appropriate site, governors confirmed.

“We are consulting parents and the wider community on a possible move of site to the vacant school premises at nearby Burnt Yates,” said Caroline Smith, chair of governors of Bishop Thornton.

“We are asking for views on the potential move because we feel the vacant site at Burnt Yates would offer more space and facilities for children and teachers, enhancing the learning experience.

“These include spacious outdoor facilities for learning and play and extensive indoor space including a school hall.”

All comments would be considered before governors decided whether to undertake a statutory consultation, she added.

“Governors and staff had been invited to consider a move to the Burnt Yates’ vacant school building by the Trustees of the Admiral Long’s Trust,” she said.

“We accept this would be a major change and so we are now consulting with parents and the wider community.”

Any change would be a move, rather than a closure, governors stressed, with the school to maintain its headteacher and staff.

Nine small schools across rural North Yorkshire have closed or faced threats over their future in recent months.

Harrogate’s Burnt Yates School, established over 250 years ago, was issued with closure notices last March.

With just 12 pupils remaining on the roll, authorities warned, its future was no longer viable amid concerns over a quality of education.

Its popularity had begun to wane after it was rated inadequate by Ofsted in 2016 and placed in special measures. Issued with an academy order, it could not find a sponsor.

There had been bitter disappointment from parents over its loss, amid warnings over the impact on a rural community.

Now, in neighbouring Bishop Thornton, there are echoing concerns over its existing church school.

Dave Kirby, father of three children in the primary and one due to start in September, has lived in the village all his life and attended the primary himself.

“This announcement came totally out of the blue,” he added.

“If they close this school there will be nothing left in the village.”