Decision on closure of Nottinghamshire primary school deferred until next June

By Zena Hawley

A small Nottinghamshire primary school has been given until next summer to find ways of increasing pupil numbers or risk closure.

North Clifton Primary School, which is rated as "good" by Ofsted, serves the small villages of North and South Clifton and over the last five years the number of pupils has dropped from 36 to 26.

The headteacher and governing body had approached Nottinghamshire Council about possible solutions and this led to a public consultation between June and July. Out of the 146 respondents, 114 wanted the school to remain open. In addition, a petition with 1,052 signatures urging the council to "assist the governors and the community in retaining the school" was handed over.

It was also noted that since the closure of the remaining pub in the village in 2012, the school is among the last remaining key facilities within the community along with the church.

There had also been concerns that children who live in the catchment area in the future would be scattered to other schools, eroding the sense of community.

Councillor Maureen Dobson, representing Collingham, said the school had three new governors and that Newark and Sherwood District Council had agreed to look at encouraging potential house building in the area.

She also said that young families from the surrounding area should be encouraged to come and look at the school.

In agreeing that the a decision on the future of the school would be deferred until June 2022 to give it more time to become viable, committee members also agreed that review of small schools should take place across the county to "ensure that rural schools can be sustainable into the medium and longer term".

Committee chair Councillor Tracey Taylor said: "North Clifton Primary staff and governors brought their situation to our attention.

"We need to take a pro-active look at all our schools."

Vice chair Sam Smith representing Newark East, said he was very pleased that North Clifton primary was not closing. He said: "We want small schools to stay open. A review will help us to fix gaps for them such as in transport."

Marion Clay, service director for the council's children and families services, said that one issue was interpretation as there was no definition for what constituted a "small" school.

She said: "There is a national presumption by the Government against closure. But it is important to review the situation periodically."


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