A rural primary school in a Nottinghamshire village is set to remain open under the leadership of a multi-academy trust.
Dean Hole Church of England Primary School in Caunton had faced an uncertain future due to falling pupil numbers and ‘considerable challenges’ in securing a full-time headteacher.
The number of pupils on the school roll had fallen from 47 in May 2019 to 24 in the spring of this year, ‘impacting significantly on the financial viability and sustainability of the school’.
This led to the school’s governing body asking Nottinghamshire County Council to launch a public consultation exercise in the summer to consider the future of Dean Hole Church of England Primary School.
The statutory exercise explored several options, including possible closure, continuing with no change, academisation and federation or amalgamation with another school or trust.
The period of consultation led to a proposal from Shirebrook-based TEAM Education Trust, which has both primary and special school experience, inviting Dean Hole Church of England Primary School to join its family of schools.
The original statutory process has ceased and formal consultation is now expected to begin to explore the transfer of Dean Hole Church of England Primary School to an academy trust led by TEAM Education Trust.
Under its proposals – which have been shared with staff, and governors, as well as the Diocese of Southwell and Nottingham and the county council – TEAM Education Trust plans also to open a satellite specialist provision for 12 pupils on the school’s Manor Road site.
Councillor Tracey Taylor, Nottinghamshire County Council’s Cabinet Member for Children and Families, said: “This is very much a welcome development and hopefully is the first step in the journey to help secure the future of Dean Hole Church of England Primary School in Caunton.
“There are still several hurdles to clear but we, as a council, are supportive of what TEAM Education Trust is aiming to achieve – which is putting in place a sustainable leadership model that has the capability to maintain and improve school standards and is financially viable.”
The Diocese has endorsed the proposal that will ultimately lead to it academising with TEAM Education Trust, which is expected to provide interim support to the school while the process is being finalised.
In the meantime, the Trust and school will be working in partnership with the County Council to develop the proposal to create an additional specialist satellite provision.
The Diocese appreciates the commitment shown by the TEAM Education Trust to build new partnerships and uphold the Christian ethos of the school. This development offers hope and opportunities for the future.
Dean Hole Church of England Primary School is currently maintained by the County Council and the last Ofsted inspection in February 2019 rated it as good.