ONE of the smallest schools in North Yorkshire could close at the end of the current academic year.

Stillington Community Primary near Easingwold has seen its pupil numbers fall to just 18 and Governors have now voted to seek to consult on the school’s closure.

The school is one of the five smallest in the county as was rated as 'inadequate' by Ofsted in January this year.

Its governing body has now written to North Yorkshire’s director of the children and young people’s service, Stuart Carlton, to request the county council begin consulting on a proposal to close the school at the end of this academic year.

Its chair of governors, Corinne Cross, has written to, and met with, parents to explain that pupil numbers have fallen to an unsustainable level, that no academy sponsor has proved to be willing to take the school on and that therefore permanent leadership cannot be secured.

Mrs Cross said: “Whilst none of the issues facing the school will be news to parents, we appreciate that the governing board’s decision to request consultation on closure may come as a considerable shock.

"We feel, at this point that we have exhausted all options open to us as a governing board which could secure the future of the school.

“We take this step with very heavy hearts but with our children’s best interests in mind; nobody wants to see the closure of our village school."

It is likely that approval to consult on closure at the end of the school year will be decided in October.

Mr Carlton said the governing body’s decision was incredibly sad, but taken in the best interests of the school’s current children.

Small rural schools are increasingly vulnerable to closure as evidenced earlier this year when Arkengarthdale School in the Dales closed after pupil numbers dwindled to just five.

The school had been serving the community for 360-years and its demise fuelled the ongoing debate in the Dales about what more can be done to attract and retain young families.