‘We’ll fight for our amazing school’

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PARENTS have pledged to fight to keep their village school open.

Out Rawcliffe CE Primary School could face the axe after County Hall and Blackburn Diocese approved a consultation on its future.

Pupil numbers have tumbled in recent years. Since January 2008 the roll has dropped from 52 to 16 pupils by January this year. Two pupils have since left and there were no new starters enrolled last September.

The news comes at the same time reports say nearly 60 primary schools in Lancashire could be in danger if government plans to change the way they are funded get the go-ahead.

With five pupils due to leave this summer, and only one ‘first preference’ pupil for the September 2012 intake, the numbers on the register will fall to 10, 60 fewer than the school was built for.

Parents say numbers have fluctuated over many years at the school, which received a ‘satisfactory’ grading in its January Ofsted inspection.

Graham Woods, grandfather of one pupil, said: “The quality of the teaching and just seeing what the kids can do just can’t be beat.

“The children, villagers and wider community love it. If it were to go they would all suffer.

“It is a lovely little school, with excellent teaching and we want to do everything to promote it.”

Parents and people in the community have formed an action group and are formulating plans to fight the closure. Spokesperson Karen Raines said: “As far as we are concerned the school isn’t closing.

“We are in the process of various meetings, looking a options and different strategies moving forward, closing isn’t one of them.

“It is a fantastic, amazing school, you couldn’t pay for the education children get in small schools where the teachers know everything about the children.”

School governors held talks with the education authority earlier this year and agreed to the consultation.

A letter sent to parents from chair of the governors Rev Mike Hartley said the move to consultation had not been an easy decision but it had been necessary to discuss the school’s future viability.

The letter stated: “As you will appreciate this has not been an easy decision to make.

“It is with heavy hearts that this course of action has been taken.”

He reassured parents while the review was ongoing the school would continue to function and “provide appropriately for pupils on the roll”.

Blackburn Diocesan education director Fred Kershaw, approached by The Courier, said: “School pupil numbers have been falling for some time and there are currently just 14 pupils on roll.”

His statement added: “There are no external factors that have been currently identified that would cause the school’s roll to increase in the short to medium term.”