Yorkshire Dales school to close after more than 300 years as pupil numbers dwindle to eight

Arkengarthdale C of E Primary School in the Yorkshire Dales has a 360-year history. Photo: Google.
Arkengarthdale C of E Primary School in the Yorkshire Dales has a 360-year history. Photo: Google.

A 360-year-old school in the Yorkshire Dales is set to close after pupil numbers fell to just eight.

Arkengarthdale Church of England Primary School has been praised for "faithfully serving its deeply rural community for 360 years" but governors are now planning to close its doors for good at the end of the current academic year.

Chairman of Governors Charles Cody has today met with staff and parents to deliver the news that numbers in the school had fallen to an unsustainable level despite efforts to attract more children.

“We have no option but to seek the school’s closure from the end of the school year in the best interests of the children currently attending,” said Mr Cody.

“We take this step with very heavy hearts as nobody wants to see the closure of this village school, which will have been with us for 360 years, but we have to be realistic.

"Currently there are eight children on roll and this number will fall to just five by 2019/20. We simply do not have numbers of children in the dale and the area to keep this school open."

Governors unanimously voted to begin a public consultation on the closure plan, which will go before the county council Executive in January.

North Yorkshire’s Director of the Children and Young People’s Service, Stuart Carlton, said: "We have done everything possible to support the school and its governors to sustain school provision for the dale.

"The governors know all their families extremely well and are very knowledgeable about the area, but it appears there simply are not the children out there for the foreseeable future to keep this school going.

"Should consultation be approved there will be opportunity for stakeholders to express their views on the overall situation as part of the required process and before any final decision is taken.”

For children currently attending Arkengarthdale, Reeth primary school, three-and-a-half miles away, is the nearest alternative.