Decision on future of Clapham Primary School imminent

Clapham Primary School.
Clapham Primary School.
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North Yorkshire County Council have published a report on the future of Clapham Primary School ahead of a decision on its future at the end of April.

The council has been surprised by an unprecedented response to the consultation – 226 written submissions, a community petition with over 200 signatures and a comprehensive recovery plan developed jointly by the school governors and the Community Action Group.

North Yorkshire Executive are considering two options: To proceed with closure or allow the governors to implement their plan for the continuation of a rural primary school which has supported the community for more than 150 years.

Council leader Coun Carl Les has stressed the county council has no secret programme of school closure, and that closure is only ever considered following a request from a school’s governing body.

Iain Crossley, Community Action Group chair, said: “Clapham School governors have access to new information about the prospects for the school and we understand they now wish to stop the closure process.

“We are pleased that for the first time Councillors have been given the option to stop a closure and keep Clapham Primary School open.”

Tracey Bilton, from the Friends of Clapham School, said: “Coun Carl Les should listen to the community; if the council had no secret programme of school closure then they should follow the wishes of the governors and withdraw the consultation.

There are no financial grounds for closing Clapham Primary School and the governors have submitted a development plan for the school making it financially sustainable. North Yorkshire County Council should support the wishes of the governors and the local community.”

Simon Peach, Community Action Group member, said: “Across North Yorkshire and the Dales the rural nature of our community means there are over 100 primary schools with small pupil numbers.

“In 2014, the closure of a school was successfully appealed when the adjudicator ruled a school cannot be closed, simply because of its size, if the council is keeping similar size schools open.

“Recently, Coun Michael Harrison and Coun Janet Sanderson suggested that pupil numbers under 20 were a tipping point for the quality of education; at Clapham the pupil numbers are well above this so to stop the closure makes perfect sense.”

School governor Maria Farrer said: “North Yorkshire County Council now accepts the pupil forecasts are higher than originally anticipated and the governors submit that there are now reasonable grounds for a withdrawal of the request to consult on closure.”

A decision on the consultation by the NYCC Executive has been postponed until April 30.