Anger as axe finally falls on village school

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A much loved Wyre village school has closed after serving its rural community for more than a century.

There were just four pupils on roll when the doors of Out Rawcliffe CE Primary School were shut for the final time last Friday.

Pupils show their disappointment that the school has been closed

Pupils show their disappointment that the school has been closed

The controversial closure has both upset and angered local residents.

Now a question mark hangs over the future of the Crookgate Lane site and the school, which opened in 1847, with speculation Blackburn Anglican Dicoese might have to return the land to descendants of the original benefactor who donated the site for the school.

As associate head Mrs Gerladine Andrews prepared to close the door for the last time she challenged educational administrators to give city children improved life chances by allocating them places at rural schools with falling rolls, rather than building costly extensions to town schools.

She said: “In Lancaster millions is being spent on providing additional classrooms at over-subscribed schools.

“These rural schools have the capacity. I don’t understand why there’s not a better strategic plan. They could get the children out of the city into these schools.”

Mrs Andrews, who is also head of Melling St Wilfrid in the Lune Valley, added: “Nobody looks at the bigger picture – not how beneficial would it be for children to be in this environment, how much would it add to their life chances?

“There doesn’t appear to be a lot of joined-up thinking.”

As she directed removal staff to take out final pieces of school equipment she continued: “ We have one child still here today who is the fourth generation in this school and that’s where you can’t measure the value. It’s not a paper exercise it’s a people exercise. It’s about people’s lives.”

Mrs Andrews said: “It’s been a hard year because at the beginning of the year the school was waiting for the sword to fall really. It was still in consultation.”

She said that as associate head of a closing school: “Basically you are charged with emptying the building. I’m a very expensive removal person.”

There had been 17 children on roll, but by the beginning of the year, once closure was imminent, it went down to 13.

By Easter there were just eight children as pupils were encouraged to move.

Four pupils were determined to stay until the end of the summer term and they will transfer to Nateby Primary school in September.

Mr Peter Jones, chairman of the governors, said: “It’s really sad after so many years and so many generations that it’s actually closing. No one is happy about it at all.”

Over Wyre curate the Rev Dawn Banks ,who led a farewell service for staff and pupils said: “It’s just very sad for the village. When the school goes there’s going to be the gap.”

The local church transferred one of its Sunday morning services to the school hall for a major celebration of the school’s life. Residents shared memories and looked at memorabilia. In addition the governors and PTFA paid for 10 pupils (some returning from their new schools) to have an overnight trip to London to visit Parliament, go on the London Eye and see a show as a big final treat.