A school in North Yorkshire is set to close due to a fall in the number of pupils in the last year.

North Yorkshire County Council’s executive members approved the closure of Hovingham CE VC Primary School today (March 21).

The governing body of the school in Ryedale approached the council during the autumn of last year to consult on a proposal to close the facility, after all pupils had transferred to other schools by the start of the new academic year in 2022.A consultation on the proposed closure of the school was carried out by the county council to allow local people an opportunity to share their views. A further statutory representation period ended in February.

Following the council's decision, the formal closure will be put in place at the end of this month.

North Yorkshire County Council’s executive member for education and skills, councillor Annabel Wilkinson, said: “It is with a heavy heart that we have taken the decision to close this school. It has been a long-standing institution among the local communities and will be greatly missed.

“North Yorkshire maintains more small, rural schools than any other local authority in the country. The stark reality is that many of our schools, particularly those in rural areas, are seeing pupil numbers reduce year-on-year.

The Northern Echo: North Yorkshire County Council’s executive member for education and skills, Cllr Annabel WilkinsonNorth Yorkshire County Council’s executive member for education and skills, Cllr Annabel Wilkinson (Image: UGC)

“Low numbers not only make the school unviable to keep running, but also mean it is not always possible for leaders to provide children with a broad curriculum and high quality education. We have a duty to ensure every child has the best possible opportunity to succeed.”

The council said North Yorkshire has around 50 schools and academies with fewer than 50 pupils, which is a sign of the effort and commitment to provide and maintain education across North Yorkshire and in rural communities.

The county council said it has lobbied the Government strongly for better funding for the county’s schools. 

While the introduction of the national funding formula has led to gains for some authorities, increases in funding are not enough to offset underlying financial pressures for schools.  

The county council also works with planning authorities with the aim to emphasise the importance and need for affordable and suitable housing to attract families into rural areas.

Cllr Wilkinson added: “The county council has made its views very clear that if small schools are to survive, then communities must remain sustainable and planning authorities must take this into account.”