A VILLAGE school site will close this year amid criticisms that government funding is putting budgets under pressure.

From September, children attending school in Sherburn Hill will have to travel to neighbouring Sherburn Village following a decision by Durham County Council yesterday.

Despite a passionate plea from parent Sally-Anne Brown, who was speaking on behalf of the campaign group set up to save the school, cabinet members voted to close the building in Sherburn Hill.

Raising concerns about whether using the school building as a community centre would be sustainable in the future, due to its size, she added: “We have already covered much about how this will affect people and the devastating impact it will have on Sherburn Hill as a whole.”

Councillor Olwyn Gunn, cabinet member for children and young people, said the decision was being made because it was not financially sustainable to run Sherburn Primary School, which was created in 2015 following a merger, from two sites.

She said: “It’s a fact the government has not invested in its existing schools. Funding has not increased in line with increasing costs. We are aware that schools are facing financial challenges.

“At the same time many of the decisions we have as a local authority has been away by the government. This is the full context and the basis of the decision.

“I don’t underestimate the views of the community. I understand and appreciate their concerns. Unfortunately no solutions were offered that would ensure a sustainable, education would be delivered over the long term.”

She added: “The school is under pressure financially and from an education perspective. The sustainability of Sherburn Primary School is very important for local families.

“There is an opportunity for more effective use of teacher time and a greater focus on on learning for all children.”

Cllr Bill Kellett, who represents Sherburn Hill, raised concerns about children having to walk the 1.4 miles to school and asked for the council to reconsider its school transport policy.

He said: “Does anyone expect a child of four years old to walk down that hill and back up every day? You wouldn’t, not if you were a responsible parent.”

The council says it has a fund of £30,000 a year for the next five years to provide free home to school transport for children currently at Sherburn Hill.