Axe to fall over village school?

Ben Wallace
Ben Wallace

A village school with 11 pupils will close down next summer if county hall recommendations are given the go-ahead.

The future of Out Rawcliffe Primary School on Crook Gate Lane is now uncertain after a report forwarded to Lancashire County Council bosses requested agreement for a closure notice following the first phase of a consultation.

Parents have pledged to fight for the school which has served generations of families over the years and launched an action group last term..

MP for Wyre and Preston North Ben Wallace added his weight to the campaign and said he would help to “look to the alternatives of closure.”

In May this year County Coun Susie Charles, Cabinet Member for Children and Schools, and Blackburn Diocese approved a stage one consultation be undertaken on the proposed closure of the school with effect from August 31 2013, following a decline in numbers.

With just two new-starters this term, the numbers on the register on now 11, 60 fewer than the school was built for.

The latest report presented to Coun Charles said earlier attempts to join the school with others in the local area had failed and “no new offers have come to light during the consultation process.”

The report added there were sufficient places in surrounding schools to accomodate the pupils and future housing developments in the area would not have ‘significant impact on pupil numbers’ for the future.

The report requested the publication of statutory notices leading to further representation periods over October and November.

A spokesperson for LCC said no further comment could be made until final decisions were taken. A date for a decision was scheduled for December but has now been put back to the new year.

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”.