Friday 27 January 2023
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Rural primary school in Nottinghamshire saved from closure threat

A rural Nottinghamshire primary school with less than 30 pupils is expected to stay open after a council dropped an option to close it and move children to other schools.

Last year, there were just 24 pupils at North Clifton Primary School in Newark, leading Nottinghamshire County Council to consider whether it should be shut.

A consultation on the future of the school was held in 2021, with closure among the options.

But it was agreed that a decision would be delayed for 12 months to “allow the school to increase the number of children attending the school”.

In the 2022-23 academic year, the school reported it had 27 pupils in total – with just three in each of year one, year two and year five.

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Following the consultation, the council said although the pupil numbers have not increased, “the governing body continues to be of the view that the school can continue to provide an education for children in their catchment and beyond”.

Now, Nottinghamshire County Council is recommending that no further action is taken and that the school remains open.

Ward councillor for the area Debbie Darby (Ind) told the Local Democracy Reporting Service said the school is “much loved” by students, parents and teachers.

She said: “To lose this school would have a huge impact on North Clifton village, causing job losses, and disruption to pupils’ education if they had to settle into another school.

“I fully support local families and parents to keep school provisions in the rural areas of my division and I am delighted that Nottinghamshire County County council have seen sense and are recommending to keep this well-needed school open.”

The council added the school forecast a £21,000 deficit in November 2021, which the authority would be liable for if the school was closed.

They added that governors have refurbished their community room using funds from the late Councillor Maureen Dobson along with donations and labour from the community.

This allowed for a breakfast and after school club to be opened which is currently attended by around six pupils a day.

Council documents stated: “Projections continue to suggest that numbers will remain small, and likely to be below 30.

“Consideration has been given to closing the school. Given the strength of the community support for the school as well as the council’s commitment to rural schools, and in the context of a Department for Education presumption against the closing of rural schools, this option is not recommended at this time.

“Small rural schools provide more than education to children; it is a central resource and landmark in their communities. Therefore, supporting the school to remain open is the recommendation to the committee.”

The council’s Children and Young People’s Committee is recommended to approve the school remaining open during the meeting on Monday, April 25.

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