A proposal to close a village primary school in a rural North Yorkshire community has been given the go-ahead.
Members of North Yorkshire Council’s executive on 23 January 2024, and agreed to proceed to the next stage of the process to close Fountains Earth Church of England Primary School in Lofthouse, amid challenges around pupil numbers, financial pressures and teacher recruitment.
The school in Upper Nidderdale has suffered from dwindling pupil numbers in recent years.
In November 2022, there were 15 children attending the school, which is part of the federation of schools with St Cuthbert’s in Pateley Bridge and Glasshouses Primary School, sharing one headteacher.
Early last year, the school’s governing board approached North Yorkshire Council to request consultation on a proposal to close the school after all pupils had transferred to other schools by the start of the current academic year in September.
On November 7 last year, a formal five-week consultation on the proposed closure of the school was launched to allow local people an opportunity to share their views.
North Yorkshire Council’s executive member for education, learning and skills, Cllr Annabel Wilkinson, said:
I would like to thank everyone from the Upper Nidderdale community who took part in the consultation exercise for this proposal.
After carefully considering all the responses, it has been decided to continue with the plans by publishing the statutory notice formally proposing the closure of Fountains Earth Primary School.
North Yorkshire maintains more small, rural schools than any other local authority in the country. Sadly, the reality is that many of our schools, particularly those in rural areas, are seeing pupil numbers reduce year-on-year.
We have a duty to ensure every child has the best possible opportunity to succeed.
North Yorkshire councillor for the Pateley Bridge and Nidderdale division, Cllr Andrew Murday, added:
Although I understand the rational for closing Fountains Earth School, it is a sad day for the community and for the local children, who will now have to undertake a longer journey to and from school each day.
Statutory notices will be published on Feb 1, which will provide the opportunity for representations to be made until February 29.
A final decision is due to be taken by North Yorkshire Council’s executive on Tuesday, 19 March 2024.