Harrogate district primary school facing budget deficit set to close

A primary school near Nidderdale is set to close with just 13 children left on roll and none enrolled to start in September.

Thursday, 7th July 2016, 9:07 am
Updated Thursday, 7th July 2016, 10:12 am
St Joseph's Catholic Primary School - Google Maps

School Governors of St Joseph's Catholic Primary School have asked the county council to begin a formal consultation to close the school.

The Bishop Thornton school is set to close at the end of the current school year with it less than one quarter of capacity and facing a budget deficit.

Places for all 13 children currently attending St Joseph's will be found at other schools in the area, including Catholic primaries in Harrogate, Knaresborough and Ripon.

North Yorkshire County Council's executive said it had concerns that children would not have access to the full range of experiences they need at the school.

Coun Arthur Barker, executive member for Schools said: "We understand and acknowledge the difficult decision the Governors of St Joseph’s school have made in asking the County Council to consult parents and the public on the future of the school.

“We will carry out that consultation in a careful and thorough way, ensuring that any decisions are made on the basis of clear understanding of the situation of the school.”

St Joseph’s was founded 130 years ago to serve a rural Parish with very different educational needs. However, changing community needs from the catchment area has led to fluctuating numbers over several years.

The county council said that, due to the decreasing number of pupils at the school, they fear it has "little or no prospect" of improving its financial position.

An informal, month-long consultation by the governing body received 45 individual responses from the community, with almost half from former pupils or teachers, as well as a joint response from all the of the existing pupils.

However, the county council said suggestions to address the impact costs of falling numbers all brought their own costs and challenges.

The Diocese of Leeds will now support parents on a one-to-one basis to find alternative Catholic schools in the locality, and to ensure that parental preferences are met.

A final decision will be made by the Executive on August 16 2016 and closure would be effectivefrom 31st August.