OUR villages and rural communities have been struggling for decades to stem the loss of services. Shops, pubs, banks, halls and schools have all disappeared – and the current pandemic is not going to help the situation, particularly for rural pubs.

Every time one of its services closes, a village does lose a part of its individuality and community, and it moves closer to becoming just a dormitory.

Village schools are genuinely a hub, where small children can learn on their doorstep without the difficulties of travelling, and where communities come together – even if it is just for a natter at the end of the school day.

But in an increasingly centralised world, rural schools are under threat – and a threat often becomes a self-fulfilling prophesy because parents look to send their children to a more stable environment thus depriving the school of the numbers it needs to survive.

Therefore, the successful technique of an executive head and shared specialisms spread across four of North Yorkshire's village schools, each with fewer than 50 pupils, is understandably attracting attention as a way of improving the viability of such schools. It is to be hoped that this way can protect more of these schools because, as well as proving education, they are hugely valuable community assets.