Councillors are being asked to agree on the closure of a school which has the lowest pupil numbers in County Durham.

Durham County Council’s Cabinet is next week being recommended to approve the closure of Rookhope Primary School, which serves the least populated part of the county.

The meeting on Wednesday, February 14 will hear the five pupils currently on the school’s roll are being educated at St John’s Chapel Primary School.

Councillors will be told that the authority envisages Rookhope children continuing to be taught at St John’s Chapel in the long term.

Councillor Ted Henderson, the council’s cabinet member for children and young people’s services, said: “It is always a really difficult decision to close any school as we fully appreciate they are important parts of the fabric of local communities and the affection with which they can be held by local families.

“However, doing what is best for our children is our priority. We have already seen how the breadth of curriculum and the opportunity for social development of Rookhope children is enhanced by them being educated at St. John’s Chapel.

"We firmly believe that this can only continue if they are taught there long term.”

A report to the meeting recalls how the most recent Ofsted inspection at Rookhope, in 2017, judged the school to be ‘Good’.

However, Ofsted inspectors drew attention to the fact that those pupils with lower starting points did not make as much progress as their peers, and that improving the quality of learning in early years remained a focus so that children could be challenged to reach their full potential in all areas of the early years curriculum.

Cabinet will be told that there were no applications for places in reception at Rookhope Primary School in September 2022 or September 2023.

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The report also says there is no anticipated housing development in the area that will result in children potentially attending the school.

Councillors will also hear that the five children at Rookhope have spent significant curriculum time with pupils from the federation of schools it is part of, at St. John’s Chapel.

The meeting will also be told that the council received no comments on the statutory notice that was published proposing the closure of the school from August 31 this year, which gave people four weeks to have their say.