APPENDIX 4                                                      Consultation responses



Do you have any comments about the closure proposal?

Do you have any comments about catchment areas?

Interest / Status

Do you have any suggestions for improvement? 


It appears to be a very sad sign of the times in that a very long lived successful school that has served the community for decades (if not a century or more!) has had to close despite there being more children than ever who need good quality education within their community. With this being so it would possibly point to miss-management somewhere along the road possibly which has lead tpot he styeady decline in pupil numbers?

We have tried to get our child into local schools within our catchment area (the hovingham area) and all have been full to capacity which has forced us to seek other means of educating our child.




I think that closure is short sighted. From my knowledge of the school and local community, (children attended 2009 - 2018), I believe that the drop in numbers is due to the most recent Headteacher, his lack of involvement in the community, his communication skills with parents, lack of wrap around care and a lack of vision for the school. From this difficult current position, creative thinking will be needed, (eg changing the federation status, sharing head/staff/pupils with another successful local school). Please give it time. The reason numbers dropped off so rapidly was due to the school becoming too small. It was clear locally for the last few years this was the direction of travel - why did NYCC not step in sooner?

With the proposed increase in housing locally, there would be increased demand for places. Parents like small village schools. Allowing the other schools to become large will detract from this.




Yes, it is NOT the school which has failed but the Head xxxxxxx, the governance and the authorities. Since xxxxx joined the school the numbers of pupils has started to decline.  At no point has anyone asked the question why?  This was confirmed in the Public meeting at Hovingham Village Hall when the question was raised. Parents, teachers and the village playgroup team have all been 'ignored' by xxxxx and the teachers have some shocking examples of how they were left to feel isolated and not listened to.  I personally witnessed xxxxx come over to the Playgroup after being invited and stayed for 5 minutes in the kitchen without engaging with any of the parents. Then he left.  If this was a private company then questions would have been raised after 6 months of numbers starting to fall but astonishingly it has been left until the number is 0!  Even now, no-one is asking why, but instead putting all their research into what will happen after the closer.  I repeat, why were no questions asked?  It is not the school which has failed but the management of it.



There needs to be evidence of all investigations that have taken place over the past few years as numbers started to fall from what was a thriving school. How was the performance review for xxxxx the headmaster and how often was it carried out?  If numbers continued to fall under his management then why was he allowed to continue?


I am strongly apposed to the suggested closure of Hovingham CofE school and feel the community, the school, it's staff and pupils have been seriously let down over recent years. There is a definate need for the school and the unfortunate publicity stating the school is closing has deterred parents from apply for the 2023 intake. I manage a local nursery and am aware of multiple families who would have put Hovingham as their first choice for 2023 and 2024s intakes.





Gilling East with Coulton, Cawton and Grimston Parish Council considered the proposal to close Hovingham School at the 9.11.22 meeting. It was agreed to register the disappointment of the Parish Council regarding the closure. Many children from the 4 parishes had attended the school over the years and it is important to maintain a balanced rural community as it will be a factor is where younger families choose to live.





I strongly object to the schools closure and would expect NYCC to support proposals for reopening in 2023 given they have housing proposals onboard increasing demand for places in the future





It’s simply wrong to close a school when the reason pupils were withdrawn and social media reputation is poor was due solely to the head teacher who was not performance managed.

If you close a school you do it on logistics and catchment. You would close a school where there are two not one that increases logistical costs


Simple petition not one designed to support closure. The panel at the public meeting were appalling lollipops, no answers, no investigation and generally pretty vacant. Great tax saving material.


I think it’s a shame that a community with a growing child population will not have a school





The school is a very important asset for families in the area





Closure just seems a silly option when the school has being failed by the head, the governors and NYCC. Small schools are needed so much especially with possible planning developments for do many houses in the area, where will children end up going to school?? People will end up driving miles causing so much more pollution.

I feel catchment area should be made smaller, forcing people to use schools in the immediate area.


Will Slingsby school bursting at the seems, I’m sure alternative solutions could be found with Hovingham School. Between the two make a junior and infant school with slightly different start and finishing times. Hovingham also needs support of before and after school clubs.


I am very disappointed at the proposal to close the school. Hovingham is a popular, vibrant village with an excellent community spirit and as such a school plays a very important part in this. The council's call for sites plan for the village shows the increase in potential housing and there will need to be the appropriate infrastructure to support this, i.e. provision of a school, etc. The school was given a good Ofsted rating and the fall in numbers can be attributed to bad leadership which was not addressed early enough, if at all.





This is completely unnecessary, there are many children in this area that with new leadership would use this school

Children used to come from far and wide to this school and from way out of catchment too


This school needs more support than it has had and needs wrap around care then it will flourish like it always had for the last 159 years


There is a need for this rural school, whilst there are no children this current academic year this is down to poor management and the support from the community and especially the predicted numbers for the next few years means it’s crucial the school stays open





The school should not be closed - poor management and governance should not be a reason to close a school.

Keep the current catchment areas and help Hovingham to attract new pupils.   Oversubscribed schools should direct new pupils to Hovingham


Give options to keep school open


Yes we need the school for our son in a couple years, just because the previous headmaster was unsatisfactory does not mean the school should close that’s a reflection on bad management not the necessity or support for the school, vital Rural service





Yes the need for rural schools remains the same - more people move into the countryside and plans for development  mean that Hovingham said should not close. Listen to the community - better management required






My grandson will need this school in a couple of years much like many other children coming up to school age in the village and around it. Get a better head teacher in who understands how to manage and engage with the local community





Hovingham School should not close. It has been a highly successful school for over 150 years & should be preparing to celebrate 160 years. The school is rated good (Ofsted) & Outstanding (SIAMs)  The school offers a broad and balanced curriculum, with opportunities to learn in the Hovingham estate through forest schools provision, use of the greens and weekly worship in the local church. Children who attend Hovingham School benefit from opportunities to learn about rural industries and their surrounding countryside from well-established links with Ryevitalise, Duncombe Park & Hovingham Hall. The staff are highly skilled, maximise learning opportunities, liaise across the sites with St Hilda’s, share expertise and give the children more opportunities to socialise. The school has historically, taken part in sporting events run by Ryedale School, building links and familiarity to ensure a smooth & confident transition from a small school to a much larger one.  Recent decline in pupil uptake has been due to lack of wrap around care and the reputation & inaction of the headteacher, such as the retraction of staff from cluster school events and meetings, and reluctance to reinstate learning opportunities post-covid (opportunities that competing schools were quick to reinstate, such as swimming lessons, trips and visitors).  The school should not close due to the negligence and inaction of the headteacher and council; everything should be done to ensure it’s future with a strategic relaunch.  Small schools were systematically shut down in Wales forcing children to face commutes of an hour, sometimes on multiple buses in order to get to schools that were not designed for the numbers they then found themselves drowned in.   We can ill-afford to have the same situation in Ryedale where 1 in 4 residents are 65+. Without investing in schools, young people will be deterred from moving into the area, losing the benefits of a young population.

Local children should be able to attend their local school. Wath Court nursery, in Hovingham, operates a substantial waitlist, demonstrating that there are children in the area. Developments planned for the service village of Hovingham, will see more families move into the area and there will continue to be a need for the school.  As catchment currently stands, local children can either attend St Hilda’s Ampleforth with a starting mixed class of nursery-year 2 which after 8 years remains in Requires Improvement, St Ben’s Ampleforth a Roman Catholic School (not a choice for ) or Hovingham CEVC Primary School- a good school with outstanding SIAMs. Should Hovingham close, I would be forced to seek a place at a school beyond the current catchment, extending car journey times and facing increased competition for a place at another school.  The interim headteacher stands to gain from the closure of Hovingham- another bias towards closing a much-loved school.


The public consultation meeting on November 9th 2022 presented only a case for closing the school and not for keeping it open or alternative options to secure the future of the school. This bias demonstrates the council’s will to see the school close.  The consultation should be halted with immediate effect and only reinstated once every avenue to prevent the closure of this rural school has been explored. The school should be mothballed and plans made for a successful relaunch in September 2023.  Given the 8 years of Requires Improvement rating of EYFS at St Hilda’s, Hovingham would be well suited to relaunch as the infant school of the federation, with St Hilda’s forming the junior school. This would maximise the expertise of the current highly-skilled and experienced Hovingham staff and secure better futures for both schools within the federation- each with its own identity and spaces used efficiently.  The council, having identified the decline in numbers having knowingly allowed the demise of pupil and staff numbers when they should have intervened.  The following questions should be answered:  Given the rapid decline in pupil numbers, what did the council do to support the school?  Given that two staff well-being surveys were commissioned by the concerned governing body through NYCC, what did NYCC do following the telling results?  Given the complaints raised against the headteacher, what did the council do to improve the circumstances that led to the complaints being raised in the first place?  Why wasn’t an interim headteacher instated at the bequest of the council when concerns were first identified?  Given Slingsby School is operating beyond their PAN, why have the council proposed to extend the catchment area for that school?  Why did the school improvement partner refuse to talk to staff, parents and governors who raised their concerns with her in the spring term of 2022?


I am against the proposed closure as I think there is a real need for rural schools.

We have friends in this catchment area and it would be a shame and a hassle if their son had to go to a different school.


Not sure why it asks for name of school again but it's not a problem. Maybe could ask more questions on the impact on the local area.


My nephew lives in Hovingham and the plan is for him to go to the local school. There is such a need for a school in the village and for surrounding areas.

Think the school should widen the catchment area so it can appeal to more of an audience. Hovingham was always an excellent school and very popular a few years ago.




Hovingham CE VC should not close. It has been a centre of excellent education for over 150 years. It was judged "good" by Ofsted and more importantly "outstanding" by SIAMs.   The rural education which Hovingham gives it's pupils is second to none. It is important that the children learn all about the wide world and the three r's but in addition it is crucial that children learn all about the landscape and the rural activities/industries in which they grow up in so that they can truly appreciate their surroundings. Forest school is an immensely important part of the curriculum which has taken place in the Hovingham Estate. The children are also able to socialise with St. Hilda's and moreover take part in the Ryedale School sports events which helps build a smooth transition from a small to "big"  school.  A recent decline in numbers at Hovingham has solely been due to the inaction, reputation and care of the headmaster. Moreover, he was reluctant to reinstate learning opportunities post Covid, such as swimming, trips out and visitors, which other schools in the area were quick to restore. It has had nothing to do with the highly motivated, skilled and dedicated staff who have done their very best over the years. The school should not close because of one man and his failings. The council should and must recognise that and also take responsibility for their lack of action too.  It is sad to think that Hovingham might go the way of so many small primary schools. Each rural village needs a school, pub, church and shop. It is what keeps the community alive and vibrant. Otherwise they end up with little or no young people, being ghost villages, with only old people living there.  In Wales councils have closed so many small schools, building large modern structures to aid their own CV's, where  thousands of children flounder under the system and often spend hours on buses each day. Look how Welsh schools have preformed in the last few years.  Save Hovingham School.

Every child should be able to attend their local village school. The nursery school in Hovingham has a long waiting list meaning there are children in the area. Indeed, the local plan for the service village of Hovingham is for a number of new houses to be build with the prospect of more children wanting a local village school.  Local children can either go to St. Hilda's (still "requiring improvement"), St. Ben's Catholic School, or Hovingham  "good" with outstanding SIAMs.  Should Hovingham close, children will be forced out of the catchment area facing increased competition for a place in another school and longer journey times.   It has not been unnoticed by many that the interim head teacher also stands to gain from the closure of Hovingham.


On 9th November '22 the public consultation meeting presented only a case for school closure and not for keeping Hovingham open or alternative future options. There is a clear bias by the council to close Hovingham.   The consultation should stop immediately and only be reinstated once every avenue has been explored. The school should be inoperative until a successful relaunch in September 2023.  The council, having seen a decline in pupil numbers allowed the demise of pupil and staff numbers without intervening and turned a blind eye. Why?  Why didn't the council do anything when complaints against the headmaster were first raised?  Why wasn't an interim head teacher put in place when concerns were first identified?  When two staff well-being surveys were commissioned by the governing body what did the council do following the results?  Why did the school improvement partner refuse to talk to parents, staff and governors who raised concerns with her in the 2022 Spring term?  Given that Slingsby Primary School is operating beyond it's pupil number capacity, why have the council proposed to extend it's catchment area? It makes no sense at all.


Absolutely disgraceful! This school has been the centre of the community for longer than I have been alive. By making small changes, such as an out of school club, it would once again thrive. The fact that is has been allowed to be run into the ground reflects very badly on the council. The fact that the head is now in charge elsewhere doesn't bode well for that school. He clearly is being used to close places down. I'm disgusted with how this has been handled and devasted that my children potentially can't access such an amazing place of education.

If you cant beat them join them. Slingsby school haven't got the space nor ability to extend. More houses are being built and they are turning kids away. Why not split the age groups up, have slingsby as younger and hovingham as older and use a shuttle bus service. Alternatively provide out of school care and Hovingham School will once again thrive!


As suggested. Either become competitive by providing out of school clubs or join forces with a successful local school that is having to turn local children away. There is a clear and promising future for hovingham school. It comes down to whether those in charge want it to remain or not.


I’m a resident of the village with two pre-school children. We would like to send them to Hovingham Primary if adequate wrap-around care was also in place

I do not know the catchment areas well. I think a better partnership for Hovingham Primary would be with Slingsby rather than St Hilda’s Ampleforth


Wrap around care essential I’m partnership with Slingsby Primary School


If not enough pupils in or around the area, there is only once choice, close it.  It isn’t going to be as bad as people think, other schools close due to lack of numbers, with everything that is happening and we are in a recession there is no other choice, sorry





 It was with great concern and dismay that I heard about the proposed closure by NYCC of Hovingham C of E School.  As I was a teacher there until 2013, I understand how a village school like this is vital to a small community. During my time there it was a thriving school, with dedicated, loyal teachers, supportive, hard-working governors and parents who valued having a local school with high standards, within a Christian ethos, where their children were nurtured and encouraged in all aspects of school life.  Financial constraints put pressure on all schools, but Hovingham School successfully adapted to difficulties by confederating with another local school to share resources and more effectively plan budgets.  The  school and whole village community of Hovingham have been let down by NYCC, who have not taken timely measures to address the difficulties that this small school faced when numbers began to decline.  If they can reconsider this drastic decision to close the school, then the community would be able to keep its heart, and welcome prospective parents who wish to settle there. The alternative is too sad to contemplate.



Provide funding for wrap around care


I am very sad about the closure proposal, my three children went to the school and were very happy there. At the time it was a very happy school at the heart of the local community. Small classes meant the teachers could know the children well and look after their specific needs. Children went on to secondary school confident and ready for their next challenges. Children who went to the school have become all manner of things ranging from doctors and vets to stone masons and gamekeepers. The whole community is shocked about the proposed closure, and there’s a feeling that the school was failed by the head teacher and the local authority who did not intervene when pupil numbers were falling. The lack of wrap round care has meant children in the village have had to go to school elsewhere if both parents work.

There are plenty of children living in the catchment area, look at Slingsby which is oversubscribed. A good school will always attract children and Hovingham is very fortunate to have provision of a forest school area loaned them by Hovingham Estate.




I cannot understand why no action was taken as numbers fell and parents removed their children from the school.  No action was taken and now we are told that the governors have suggested closure. We have a thriving playgroup in Hovingham with somewhere in the region of 30local children each week.  We tried to work with the school to help with recruitment but the head teacher was not committed to working with us.  We have a cohort of children coming through that could feed into the school if we work together to market and engage with our Mums and little ones

Children should attend the local school rather than causing unnecessary traffic and travel in ferrying to schools 6-7 miles away




I am really saddened that the school is threatened with closure. My three children went there and were so happy, being in small classes meant the teachers knew each child well. The school was very much at the heart of the community and had fantastic leadership. Latterly I understand the leadership has been poor, both the teachers and the parents felt ignored by the head. I’m very surprised the numbers dropping didn’t result in the education department investigating why that was happening. The school has been failed by the management. I am sure with the right head in place and wrap around care the school will flourish again. As a church school it seems the local church body let them down as well

When my children were there children came from a big catchment area. If a school has a good reputation parents will travel to send their children




Yes I do, I’m angry that the school was allowed to rapidly loose all its children without intervention from NYCC. It was an excellent school when my kids were there and really well supported by the community

Kids have always mainly come from outside the village and will continue to do so if the school has a good reputation




This should be reversed as a matter of urgency. Numbers were allowed to dwindle due to poor leadership. For 160 years Hovingham School has provided education for local children. There is still a great need for a school to continue the education. A thriving playing in Hovingham is proof of potential numbers.

Local children are having to travel. A local school is essential.




I strongly disagree with the closure proposal. All the information I’ve heard and read points to pupil numbers falling as a result of negligent management and not due to lack of demand and support for our local school





I am responding on behalf of the Howardian Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) Joint Advisory Committee (JAC). As Hovingham is one of our Howardian Hills AONB communities, the JAC discussed the issue of closure of Hovingham School at our meeting of 21 November 2022. We wish to express our belief in the importance of local schools as key facilities for local communities. Hovingham School has been successful for many years, providing an essential service to the local community and with good, consistent student numbers. Though numbers have dropped in the last 2-3 years, evidence shows that this has not been due to lack of potential students and that there continue to be sufficient primary age children in the catchment who could attend the school if it remains open. Closure would put other local schools under more pressure and result in children having to travel further than necessary to school. Thus, we object to the closure of Hovingham School. Instead, we suggest that the County Council support the local community by providing interim funding to enable the school to be re-started, recruiting a new, competent Head of School and encouraging parents to have confidence in the school's future and to register their children with it.





I was very disappointed to hear that the Governing Body has reluctantly asked the County Council to consult on closure proposals for Hovingham CE Primary School.  The school was built in the 1850s and provided by my family for the provision of education.  I believe the value of the school is as important now as it was then. The school has been part of the village ever since and I attended myself.  Now Hovingham is a growing and vibrant village it needs a thriving school in the heart of the community.  We have had a steady stream of families moving into the village in recent years and many have young children that they would like to send to the village school.  Indeed, they often relate that they have moved into the village so that they can walk to school.  Sadly, the recent problems with leadership have put them off.  My hope is that the County Council will work with the supportive community to keep the school open so that future generations can benefit in the same way that my family has done over the years.

The number of pupils at surrounding schools and the over capacity of Slingsby School shows there is local need. The plans to grow local villages means that there will be a requirement for more primary education capacity and if Hovingham School closes there will be a lack of places in the area and may require the Council to build a new school in the future. Therefore keeping Hovingham School open and rebuilding it makes economic sense.




Whilst there are no pupils at the school right now, this is an unprecedented situation where there has been a complete failure of leadership within the management.  With Ofsted Good and SIAMS Excellent grades, under new leadership there is a real opportunity to make a fresh start and attract a new intake of pupils for this long standing and popular school.  Please do not close Hovingham School.

There are sufficient primary school aged children living within catchment to populate Hovingham School as well as other local schools, some of which are over subscribed.

Hovingham Hall Estate

The school is an integral part of the village and has been for many years.  Hovingham is a Service Village and Ryedale District Council proposes new housing which will attract families with young children.  There is a growing demand for school places in the locality.  Hovingham Estate offers enhanced activities for the school including; a nearby wood within walking distance for Forest School/outdoor learning activities, Hall Green for additional playground and sports space, an annual rural education day, the Hall grounds for rounders matches and sports days.  The community takes a keen interest in the school.  The school is very well supported by the local community.  Please keep Hovingham School open for the benefit of local children.


As a resident and former pupil, many years ago, I would like to register my opposition to the proposed closure of Hovingham village school. Before any decisions about its future are taken it is important that the mistakes of the past are examined closely so they are not repeated.





I have been a governor of the St Hilda's & Hovingham Federation since mid March 2022 in response to an advert in the local parish magazine. In April 2019, I retired from a career of over 30 years as a lawyer in corporate finance and board level in- house roles in the Energy and Chemicals sectors.  I am now a senior Government lawyer. I have also been a governor of two private sector schools in the past.  On my arrival, it was very clear that Hovingham was in serious difficulty with numbers dropping and a head-teacher that appeared remote and defensive. I have absolutely no doubt in my mind that the dissatisfaction with the then operational management of Hovingham expressed at the consultation meeting is entirely justified. Sadly, recent NYCC support for the Governor's, though most welcome , has been too little and too late.  The school should be provided with the opportunity to return to its integral role in the local community.  * there is significant local support for the school.  While I am not aware of the number of registrations for September 2023; I am aware of 6 children whose parents would like to join the Reception class in September 2024;  * Future housing plans will increase demand * Consistent with the development plan seen by the NYCC, School staff have established very warm links with local playgroups - a ready pipeline of potential pupils * It has the support of the local estate that has facilitated the development of a forest school offer.  *With the right leadership, there is little doubt that a successful school can be recreated.  It is clear that the current governance model is fundamentally unfit for purpose.  It is untenable for the head-teacher to also be a governor - having an operational and a supervisory role. This creates an irreconcilable conflict of interest that the NYCC does not have the experience or resource to manage.   Hovingham school is in circumstances entirely NOT of its own making. It should be granted a reprieve.

I should first express my disappointment with the cap on character count in this process. 2000 characters is a wholly inadequate amount to enable the coherent explanation of complex issues directly relevant to the future of the school.  Reverting to the question of catchment should Hovingham school be forced to close, Option 2 is the preferred option as it reflects the local geography and affinity of the respective parishes..


The character count limit imposed is unreasonable and prevents the effective delivery of considered opinion on a complex issue. It calls the adequacy of the entire consultation process relating to the future of the school into question.


In response to the consultation on the closure of Hovingham School, I write on behalf of  Hovingham Estate, to pledge our support for keeping the school open.  I appreciate that there are currently no pupils on roll, but this is an unprecedented situation, where it is clear that there has been a complete failure of leadership.  The Governing Body has a real opportunity to make a fresh start under new leadership.  The Ofsted Good and SIAMS Outstanding reports can attract a new intake of pupils to re-seed the school.. The Estate has always been very supportive of Hovingham School since it is an integral part of the village.  We have variously offered a nearby wood within walking distance for Forest School and outdoor learning activities, the Hall Green for an additional play area and sports field, the cricket pitch in front of the Hall for Sports Days, Rounders matches and events, a Leaver's tour of the hall that could be extended to other occasions.  Also, the Estate has teamed up with the charity Countryside Learning to offer an annual rural education day where the pupils can learn about everything from river management to mountain rescue, forestry, food and farming, gardening and wildlife.  Ryedale District Council has confirmed that Hovingham retains it status as a Service Village and has indicated a likely housing allocation in its Call for Sites consultation process.  This will bring families into the village and there will be an increased demand for the school.  It simply does not make sense to close it at this juncture.  Please listen to the views from the local population and keep Hovingham School open.


Hovingham Hall Estate



I was very disappointed to hear that the Governing Body has reluctantly asked the County Council to consult on closure proposals for Hovingham CE Primary School.  The school was built in the 1850s and provided by my family for the provision of education.  I believe the value of the school is as important now as it was then. The school has been part of the village ever since and I attended myself.  Now Hovingham is a growing and vibrant village it needs a thriving school in the heart of the community.  We have had a steady stream of families moving into the village in recent years and many have young children that they would like to send to the village school.  Indeed, they often relate that they have moved into the village so that they can walk to school.  Sadly, the recent problems with leadership have put them off. The number of pupils at surrounding schools and the over capacity of Slingsby School shows there is local need. The plans to grow local villages means that there will be a requirement for more primary education capacity and if Hovingham School closes there will be a lack of places in the area and may require the Council to build a new school in the future. Therefore, keeping Hovingham School open and rebuilding it makes economic sense. My hope is that the County Council will work with the supportive community to keep the school open so that future generations can benefit in the same way that my family has done over the years.


Hovingham Hall Estate



The Hovingham School was built over 150 years ago and has been an integral part of the community ever since then. The school and the community joined together to celebrate 150 years, demonstrating the mutual benefits of the excellent school with a vibrant community. The celebrations showed how long and well established that relationship was and how important it was to current and future pupils of the school, providing a solid foundation for their future education and the community.   On 1st April 2015, when Hovingham CE Primary and St Hilda’s CE Primary Schools became federated it was on the basis that it would enable the schools to work together, helping each other and combining their assets for the benefit of current and future pupils.  In the literature circulated at the time it was stated that this would reduce the risk of closure following federation.  Looking at the number of pupils at both schools since 2016 Ampleforth has risen from 17 in 2016, reached 35 in 2020 and is now 28.  In the same years Hovingham had 38 pupils in 2016, 33 in 2020 and now it is either 16 or 0.  This does not appear to follow the objectives of federation, where the pupils, budget and resources of each school would work together to form a stronger partnership.  7 applications for places at Hovingham were received for 2022-23 and none were allocated, according to NYCC statistics. In addition, there were 16 pupils already on role, who have now been transferred to other schools. It appears that a decision to close the school had already been made in March 2022 and contributed to the lower number of pupils for 2022-23. Throughout the “consultation” there has been an assumption the school is already closed and that the consultation was just to formalise that decision.  At the public meeting on Wednesday 9th November a large number of residents attended and asked many questions which were not answered either at the meeting or subsequently. Attendance at local schools is obviously dependent both on the number of children of primary school age living in the area and the preferences of parents to select the best school for their children.  In addition, families will move into and out of the area however, these should equal themselves out.  The number of pupils at 5 local schools averaged 353 since 2016. At Hovingham in 2016 and 2017 there were 18 and 12 applications for places, since 2018 this has reduced to an average 8 per year. The number allocated to Hovingham was 8 and 7 places in 2016 and 2017, since 2018 this has averaged less than 2. In the last year the number of pupils at Hovingham has decreased substantially compared to other schools in the area, due to no applications being allocated and pupils transferring to other schools. According to the Ryedale Plan Hovingham is a “Service Village” where the school is an essential part of the community and important asset when attracting new housing and young families to the area. The Parish Council fully support Hovingham school remaining open and remaining a unique educational asset to the village, Ryedale and North Yorkshire. Please see the table attached at the end of this document. This document is listed below as Item 1.


Parish Council



I was very disappointed to hear that the Governing Body has reluctantly asked the County Council to consult on closure proposals for Hovingham CE Primary School.  The school was built in the 1850s and provided by my family for the provision of education.  I believe the value of the school is as important now as it was then.

The school has been part of the village ever since and I attended myself.  Now Hovingham is a growing and vibrant village it needs a thriving school in the heart of the community.  We have had a steady stream of families moving into the village in recent years and many have young children that they would like to send to the village school.  Indeed, they often relate that they have moved into the village so that they can walk to school.  Sadly, the recent problems with leadership have put them off.

The number of pupils at surrounding schools and the over capacity of Slingsby School shows there is local need. The plans to grow local villages means that there will be a requirement for more primary education capacity and if Hovingham School closes there will be a lack of places in the area and may require the Council to build a new school in the future. Therefore, keeping Hovingham School open and rebuilding it makes economic sense.

I understand from Kevin Hollinrake MP that Ryedale Learning Trust are interested in taking over the school, which is encouraging. They will, however, need some financial support from the County Council which I hope you will be able to provide.  I believe this will be a good investment both to keep the school going and to save a significant cost in the future if a new school was required.

My hope is that the County Council will work with the supportive community to keep the school open so that future generations can benefit in the same way that my family has done over the years.


Hovingham Hall Estate



Hovingham School has been at centre of Hovingham Community for over 150 years and all through that time the PCC has been part of the school’s story and the school has been a part of the village’s story.  Being located in the very centre of the village and being prominent and imposing buildings, the school is ‘part of the fabric’ of the village.

The Community, Church and School have always had very close links, with joint projects, events, services and many types od activities over the years.  This sadly changed a few years ago with a new administration and offers of engagement by the church and community were largely ‘decided’ by the school administration. 

It is difficult to understand how a situation as serious as closure can develop.  Where were the processes and controls to pick up this deteriorating situation much sooner and remedy it?  The alarming news of possible closure of the school has however, seen the Community and Church galvanise in combined actions to ensure the future of our school.  As such teams are now encouraging pupils to enrol, and other are rallying support and checking options.  Support keeps coming in, among them the Hovingham Playgroup which had built some links to the schools and very much wishes this to continue and develop further. The Community Worship Group of local adults wishes to continue contributing to the religious life of the school and rebuild the cooperation that had always been part of the children’s activities.  Hovingham and the PCC very much believes in its school.  We understand that child enrolments are the criteria on which you base the school re-opening.  However, please consider that in the times we live in, a local school safe, personal and relevant with space, fresh air and a community to embrace.  It is of great value to the cohesiveness of the village and surrounding area.


Hovingham Parochial Church Council



Hovingham Voluntary Controlled Church of England School should not and must not close. There are pre-school and primary aged children in the village. These children, their parents, and the residents and rate payers of Hovingham have been let down by:

·         the local Authority

·         the Governing Body

·         the Diocesan Board of Education

·         the leadership

The above all need to be held to account for their actions. In order to understand the current situation questions should be asked and answers found as to why and how this was allowed to happen.

This was a happy, vibrant school with hard working, dedicated staff in a very supportive community. The lack of support from the above bodies has not been addressed and the children of today and tomorrow are being short changed.

The Executive Members of North Yorkshire County Council owe it to the children and parents of Hovingham and its catchment area to overturn this proposal from the Governing Body (probably advised by officers of the LEA) and find an innovative and creative solution to re-opening the school.

The consultation meeting held on 9th November 2022 allowed questions but gave no real answers other than 'put it in writing'.

Every effort must be made to appoint an energetic, enthusiastic and dedicated school leader who will command respect, be fun and be prepared to go the extra mile. Someone who will engage with the families and the community and share their vision to move this, once very successful school, forward and return it to its rightful place in the community. Until a guarantee can be given that such an appointment will be made and the parents are able to meet that person they will lack the confidence to move their children, from a school where they are settled, to the unknown.

The local Authority through their monitoring officers and with the help of local head teachers should be able to identify suitable candidates willing to take on this challenge. The right person will have the wholehearted support of the community in Hovingham, the local church community and Hovingham Estate, the latter having allowed the use of their grounds for sporting activities and a wooded area for Forest Schools activities. The village has wonderful resources within a short distance of the school such as the beck, a playground, the village hall, a church and chapel, village greens and a tennis court all available to be used by the school. There is no reason why the pupils of a small school should not have access to a broad and balanced curriculum. There are opportunities for each child to experience a wide range of activities where strengths are recognised and weakness supported by staff and pupils in a safe and inclusive environment.

It is symptomatic of the age that the involvement of the Church of England in supporting and promoting primary education has become low key. The foundations of a caring and inclusive society could be strengthened with the guidance and support of the church to their village schools, churches and communities.

Both Hovingham Estate and Castle Howard Estate have put forward substantial sites for housing to be included in the Ryedale District Council local Plan. It would therefore be short sighted to close Hovingham School when the nearest school at Slingsby is knowingly oversubscribed and Terrington Church of England Primary School near its limit. (November 1973 a plan for primary schools recommended building a new school to serve Hovingham as well as pupils from Slingsby, Nunnington (now closed) Terrington and Gilling East (now closed) Schools.)

If the school closes North Yorkshire County Council will have to provide transport to a designated school now and in the future. The cost of home to school transport in North Yorkshire is already very high. The increase in the cost of fuel and concern about the carbon foot print in transporting the children from Hovingham  and its catchment area to another school needs to be addressed to establish whether in the long term this would be the best use of resources.

I can only agree with Sarah Todd, former editor of Yorkshire life magazine when she says in her article published in the Yorkshire Post on Saturday 22nd October 2022, "Sometimes it seems the only way country schools can attract pupils is by jumping through enough red-tape to make a vicar swear and being praised by Ofsted inspectors. But let's face it, ticking boxes of a school inspection doesn't necessarily equal happy kids or a well-rounded education.”

Before taking any decision there need to be a close examination of where the current pre-school and primary school pupils live.




I am local and both of my children went to Hovingham school and they both had a fantastic education there.   I feel that Hovingham has become a very expensive place to live and I can count around 8 pupils that left the school to go onto private education within the years 20/21/22.  This is no fault of the school but merely a sign of the times for the families that live in Hovingham and the surrounding area.   Whilst my 2 children were there they did trial a breakfast club but I believe that the numbers were not viable for this to continue.  I also know that within the last 2 or 3 years they did advertise again for a person to run the breakfast club but nobody applied.   I feel sad that the school might close my Husband went there and also his father.    I do not have a bad comment about any of the leadership at the school my children had a fantastic education there starting from 2013 - 2022.





I am purchasing a home in Hovingham, myself and my wife are in our early 30s and planning to have children and we would like to send our children to school locally, a primary school in the village is very important to us






Myself and my husband are moving to Hovingham, and are wanting to start a family, we would ideally like to send our children to the village school in Hovingham, it would be a huge shame if the school were to close





As a Federation of two small rural schools in the local area and in a collaboration with a third school, we are saddened to hear about the proposed closure of Hovingham School. We are very committed to village communities retaining their Primary schools as a key asset for supporting children and families by providing high quality education.  Hovingham School has declined to the extent that it has no children on roll, and it is hard to see how it can rebuild its numbers, particularly when neighbouring schools have places available. It seems unlikely that many, if any, parents would choose to put their children’s names down for a school place when the quality of education will be compromised by the very small number of children and other options are open to them. However, this will be tested out in January. There are financial issues too set out in the consultation document. To remain open Hovingham School would have to be subsidised in the short term until numbers increase and this would come from the overall NYCC Schools budget without attracting pupil funding from central government. Given that there are currently sufficient school places it is questionable whether this is a good use of resources in tough financial times. It will impact negatively on other schools. Given the above, it seems that closure is unfortunately inevitable and the focus going forward, Should be on lessons to learn and developing strategies to ensure that other small rural schools do not suffer the same fate. Rural North Yorkshire needs local schools providing sustainable and good quality education for the young children so their communities can continue to thrive.

If Hovingham School does close, our Federation would prefer option two as regards the catchment area changes, with Scackleton and Coulton becoming a part of the Terrington School catchment area. There are places at Terrington School currently and there are significant links between the two settlements and Terringon. Slingsby School is full at the present time. Whilst not at present part of the same Benefice as regards Church of England organisation this is likely to change in the next few years as the Southern Ryedale Deanery Plan is implemented.

Foston and Terrington Governing Federated Governing Body



Looking at the data, what stands out is that the enrolment numbers were consistent up until 2020. The question this raises is what changed around that time that meant the school did not continue to attract the same level of enrolment? Surrounding schools such as Slingsby have experienced increased enrolments during the same period suggesting that there are children needing school places locally. Understanding what was happening around 2020 would be helpful in informing decisions about keeping the school open and what needs to change to ensure this valued community asset continues to fulfil an important role. Wrap around care is an important factor for parents choosing schools - why can some schools provide this and others not?





The reason the school has failed is as a direct result of the previous headmaster. Teachers, parents and governors all had concerns and these were not properly listened to, and actioned, and hence children, staff and governors had an exceptional turnover. If you look at his previous school in Wykeham you can see that exactly the same happened there before he left. After his departure, the numbers increased again. The same will happen in Hovingham if NYCC appoint a new headmaster along with the appropriate promotion.   There is a thriving toddler group in the village on a Wednesdaywhich has only been established in the last year. 80+ families have been through that group in the last 12 months. Despite only open for a year, they get on average 25 attendees a week. A quiet week has around 15 children and a busy week 35. These are an ideal group to put Hovingham school on the map. In addition one week in May it had to run on a Thursday due to a previous booking at the village hall and a completely different set of parents and children came, who are normally at work on a Wednesday. This therefore suggests that a “stay and play” session at school on an alternative day would also be beneficial. The teachers had only just begun building a relationship with the group before this consultation was announced and already you could see cohorts forming and children warming to the teachers and the sessions. Parents were also building trust, which would have made transition across the road to the school very easy.   Wrap around care is essential and this is another area where Hovingham failed to meet current needs, another easy fix.   Forest school is ever popular with toddler groups and Hovingham is ideally placed along with the support of the estate to provide an excellent provision within walking distance.   All of the above suggests the closure is premature and the direct cause for failure has finally been removed so the school should be given the opportunity to flourish.

I believe these to be correct.  Using a head from an adjacent catchment area this term seems to be a conflict of interest as the school closing would be her schools gain.




The school should not be closed. It was run down by the leadership, especially the headteacher and the Local Authority should have noticed parents were taking their children out. Despite the best efforts of the staff the school became isolated from the church, community and parents. Ryedale learning trust have now said they want to take over both Hovingham and St Hilda's. This must be allowed to happen. It is obvious that the local Authority are culpable in the schools demise and should now take a hard look at that and now support the school so it can flurish again.

The catchment area always has provided enough pupils for the school


Allow Ryedale Learning trust to take over the school. At the public meeting on 9th November in Hovingham Village Hall, the LA stated that this was a very unusual case. Giving some transitional funding will not set a precedent for other small schools but it will recognise that failings by leadership led to this situation so the LA need to step up and rectify this and save the school.


What has happened in Hovingham in the the space of a very short time is extraordinary, pupil numbers dropping, parental confidence in the school and its reputation plummeting, and low morale among staff. The sudden departure of the head at the end of the summer term finished it for the remaining parents.   NYCC describes this as ‘unprecedented’. The unfairness of the proposed closure is that there has been no time or opportunity to re-launch the school. Figures show there are children in catchment and nearby schools have high pupil numbers and parents who are willing to enrol their children at these schools even if they have to transport them daily.  The temporary executive leadership for this term was hastily arranged without governor opportunity to look at any alternatives or mount a recovery plan and very quickly they were in a situation where there was no alternative but to request NYCC to consult on closure.   The Hovingham community knows that in the Ryedale Plan there are ambitions for more housebuilding including affordable housing both in and round Hovingham which will bring demand for local school places. Successful liaisons with a relatively new baby and toddler group have reinforced the view that there will be demand for early years places, but there is a short time lapse until that occurs. The Hovingham Estate values the school at the heart of the community supporting the school’s ambitions to provide outdoor learning for children in several unique ways. Hovingham has been, and can be again, a school of first choice for families in this part of Ryedale.   This feels like a rush to a financially driven opportunity to close another small school in a rural area. I am strongly again this imminent closure.  I am certain governors, at least from 2019, were trying to bring issues around the leadership to the attention of NYCC and when, as I believe they should, NYCC holds an investigation into this, I will be very willing to bring my evidence.

My preference is for proposed Option 2 Hovingham aligns better with the street parishes along the B1257




The closure of this school will be detrimental to the village as, historically,  the school has been a vibrant part of the community.  This has taken the form of community cafes, welcoming members of the community into school and participating in key events such as Remembrance services in the local church.    In addition, providing education locally will enable families to potentially reduce their travel time.  This will benefit local people, especially during the current cost of living crisis and reducing car travel time is better for the planet.  It is sad that the reason Hovingham School is earmarked for closure is not due to poor teaching or a poor educational experience.  Rather, the pupil numbers were allowed to plummet without any effective intervention, including at county level.  Concerns about pupil numbers were raised with the county representative based in school as well as school leadership yet nothing was done until it was too late.  As a result, families who would have considered  Hovingham and the wider village community are being penalised.





I am not in favour of closing Hovingham CE Primary School as it is only in this “unusual situation”, as stated by NYCC representatives, because of failed leadership in the school & in NYCC, accompanied by poor governance. It is stated in section 2.3 of the NYCC consultation document that NYCC knew numbers were in decline from 2017/2018, resulting in zero pupils in September 2022. The exact same trend that the Operational Leader of Hovingham school oversaw at their previous school, Wykeham CE Primary School, where fortunately the school was rescued after the Operational Leader departed. Yet despite this, NYCC did nothing to assist with turning the trend around at Hovingham School, the School Improvement Officer stating it was not within their remit.  The document, Opening and Closing Maintained Schools. Statutory Guidance for Proposers and Decision Makers, has a section “The presumption against the closure of rural schools”. I do not believe that NYCC has followed this government guidance in the first instance as nothing has been done by NYCC to assist the school to reverse the trend and to stay viable. I believe NYCC deliberately let the situation of zero pupils develop in order to close this rural school, which is appalling and an insult to the community, with a lack of understanding of the more rural parts of our county. The Ryedale Learning Trust (RLT) has offered an opportunity for the school to remain open and continue to serve its community. A number of housing developments in the Ryedale area are to be realised over the next 5 years, which will bring more families into the area. RLT has an excellent track record and I would like to think that NYCC will work with them to give them the support & finance to achieve this. Also, that NYCC examine how they failed Hovingham School, to avoid putting other rural schools through the same unnecessary process, and that they make changes to their procedures to reflect this.

If the proposed bigger catchment area for Hovingham & Slingsby benefits Hovingham CE Primary School, then I have no problem with it. However if Hovingham School, and St Hilda's, become part of the Ryedale Learning Trust, then I am not sure how the catchment areas will be applied as part of this Academy.


I think NYCC needs to expand its knowledge of the rural parts of North Yorkshire and the importance of rural schools to the rural communities, especially for Service Villages. There is a clear need for people in the education department to engage with these communities. While a consultation process has been initiated, it feels like you have already made your decision and are just going through the formalities. The situation that Hovingham School has found itself in could have been avoided if NYCC had involved the community in the years leading up to this year. NYCC must review their own failings with regard to Hovingham School, take learnings from this and put in corrective procedures.


This is an unusual case as this school is a 'good' rated school with 'outstanding' rated SIAMS and should not have been up for closure. This was not a failing school and has the potential to thrive again. The reason this school is in this position is because pupil numbers have been allowed to fall to zero which is very difficult to recover from. Incompetence from the head and a lack of action from the governors acting on information from staff has lead to this proposal. The head does have to take some accountability as many families left due to his lack of leadership. Many families left during a period where key staff were on maternity leave but the head did not monitor supply staff appropriately (amongst other examples of incompetence which were highlighted to governors over a period of 6 years!) meaning they were allowed to divert from school policies. Every time staff approached a Chair of Govs with concerns they consequently resigned (hence the turnover of Chair of Govs in recent years!) NYCC, I feel, also need to take some accountability. All of this information including a head with formal complaints, turnover of chair (4in a couple of years?), approached by one chair and turned away, School Improvement Advisor approached with concerns and refused to act, along with the rapid decline of numbers should have triggered an investigation. How was this head allowed to struggle and fail so badly despite having a strong team who were happy to assist? He should have been supported in his role/encouraged to do the right thing sooner before numbers in the school were allowed to drop below ten never mind zero! He certainly wasn't in a fit state to lead in the last 6 months at least. Staff loved and were dedicated to this school and its families.Long standing staff who have put 13-15 years of their lives into this school now have the livelihoods they loved in jeopardy due to the failings of others. Past pupils are caring/considerate, hardworking and successful individuals.

Historically the school has attracted many pupils from outside of catchment area, travelling longer distances to attend. The school acted as a welcome alternative to larger schools because of its size and the resulting family feel. Parents, staff and pupils all appreciated the family feel of the school meaning excellent relationships were formed. Many parents share that despite looking around all the schools locally this was the choice for them so it clearly offers something that appealed to particular families. Some families shared that their children just learn better in a smaller environment and that they are more confident in smaller peer sizes. Some parents preferred the mix of ages in the classes and so they were happy to send their child/travel to the school to provide their children with this specific approach to education. There are enough families to make this school viable and with the addition of playgroup (which teachers have already formed excellent relationships with), proposed nursery, wrap around care provision and local building plans, this school definitely has a future where numbers could be sustained. There is a dip for numbers in Sep 23 due to the major ask of parents to place their child in a school with no other pupils. Intake for Sep 24 looks promising and from there, with the elements mentioned above, the school could recover and thrive again. People are still calling to enquire about the school and its reputation can be rebuilt. It has only faltered due to incompetence in leadership. Lots of children left and joined a private school but their parents were always happy with the education provided by Hovingham until becoming unsettled by leadership. Prior to this, despite being able to afford private schooling the parents were happy at Hovingham. We have had families with 3/4 siblings who have been with school since their first child being in reception but they have felt that the need to remove their last child. Given time it can recover.


Some of this process has been clear and some has been quite difficult. We were provided with very little information at the beginning of this process. Meeting times and dates etc. Also this link for this form could have been sent out to relevant people with a link to the school eg teachers, parents, local community, especially those that contributed during the initial public meeting. Once the process had been started it has been relatively easy to follow although information provided to staff concerned has been very limited, especially the redundancy aspect. Cutting the consultation time also seemed unfair though this has been rectified to a degree. There are still many unanswered questions which has been a regular theme throughout the process such as what needs to be done in order for the decision to close to be overturned? The question of how this particular case was allowed to ever get to this point in the first place also remains unanswered. The school would NOT have been in this position if NYCC had stepped in sooner. Even if there were a handful of children left in the school, it could have recovered when all of the points mentioned in this form were considered. The problem lies with the fact that the school numbers were allowed to drop to zero before NYCC gave it any attention. The school now needs more time to recover but this would have been significantly easier if the school still had pupils. Not many of these questions were answered at the meeting, most people were told to 'put their thoughts down on the form'. Could more answers be provided when asked for?


Response 53 was a response from the Chief Executive Officer of the Ryedale Learning Trust. This response is included separately as Appendix 5. An abridged version of the same response was also submitted as part of the online survey including the Trust’s view on the catchment proposals. This response can be seen below as Response 54


Ryedale Learning Trust



Why do we (Ryedale Learning Trust) want to help Hovingham and St Hilda’s CE Primaries?  -We have wanted to work with Hovingham and St Hilda’s from the outset- Hovingham & St Hilda’s were part of the working group that led to the establishment of the Ryedale Federation in 2016 

 -Our Trust is committed to engaging with all interested schools (including CE schools) in the surrounding geographical area. We understand this will require us changing to Mixed Articles, with the support of the Diocese.  

-We believe wherever possible that small rural schools should be preserved, as they are integral to the communities they serve   -Hovingham & St Hilda’s CE primaries are within the catchment area for Ryedale School  

-Hovingham CE School has the pupil numbers in catchment to secure its future, and we believe we can help make Hovingham (and St Hilda’s) schools of choice in their local, and wider communities  

-We have a good track record for improving small schools and ensuring their viability   RLT Support from January 2023 

 - Leadership of the schools by our Primary Lead (Executive Headteacher) 

 - Access to and support from the Trust Central Education and Operations teams    Proposed Hovingham CP School Offer from September 2023:  

 -Up to 8 reception places , Up to 16 nursery places, Places would also be open to Y1 & 2 pupils from September 2023,   Wrap around care and enrichment activities (including Forest Schools), A school community within a community of schools   We are currently holding open mornings and advertising the potential provision on offer from September 2023. We have interest for nursery places but not as yet reception places for September 2023.  We recognise that without a positive outcome for the school in terms of the consultation, and without appropriate transitional financial support from the LA from April 2023, our actions alone cannot guarantee that Hovingham School will be open in September 2023. We have relayed this message to all stakeholders.

Our preference would be Option 2 Proposed option 2: Hovingham parish to become part of the Slingsby CP catchment area. The area currently shared between Hovingham CE and St Hilda’s and the parish of Stonegrave to become part of St Hilda’s catchment area. Parishes of Coulton and Scackleton to become part of the catchment area for Terrington CE School.

Ryedale Learning Trust



Hovingham school has the potential to be a popular and successful school as it was before the last headteacher came into post.  It would be a travesty not to give the school, the community and the remaining staff the chance to rebuild the school community given that the reason the school is in the position it is is down to the inadequacy of the headteacher, the failings of NYCC in providing appropriate support and intervention when issues were raised with them.  The school was let down by two School Improvement Advisors, I can provide first hand evidence of this.  The school has a good number of children in catchment and many great assets including excellent early years staff, good teaching spaces, excellent community and Estate support, and access to a very good forest school area.  Services such as schools provide critical services in rural areas and it is important to support and maintain them. The interest from the Ryedale Learning Trust is very exciting and provides a real opportunity to develop excellent school provision in Hovingham with shared expertise, resources and enthusiasm.





Yes, it is a real shame that a lovely local rural school should close. It is so important that children don’t travel too far for school and it’s great to have it in the community.





Hovingham school is at the heart of the community. The decision to close without prior appropriate consultation with the community and the Estate is abhorrent.   There is an active playgroup which attracts c30 children each week and could be a perfect catchment and feeder into the school; despite numerous requests and suggestions for this to be looked at by the previous Headmaster no action was taken.   How can the closure proposal be a credible and viable suggestion when no changes have been actioned to make the school appealing to parents and offer a long term strategy to enable survival? In addition, with the Estate’s long term vision of growth for the community with the ambition of attracting more families, is a school not a fundamental requirement for the village? How very shortsighted. Shame on anyone that thinks this is a fair and just next step.





The closure would have an impact on the wellbeing of young people and the sense of community that local schooling enables.



You need to ask for solutions


I'm against the proposed closure. I don't understand how the council has stood by and not stepped in when numbers were critically dwindling. I don't understand how an acting head who stands to gain from the school's closure could have been appointed. Closing this school leads to others becoming over-subscribed. Those schools are then also at risk of closure with the argument of creating a large capacity primary, which will ruin the community spirit, quality of life and education of so many. People choose to live in rural areas and send their children to small rural schools for the community that they are part of.



The timescales shifted several times. It appears this is a foregone conclusion and the council have made no effort to save the school.


Questions and Findings arising from consultation on the proposed closure of Hovingham School.


Governance (Board of Governors and Local Authority) & Educational Leadership

1.        There are clear indications that the head teachers community engagement, performance and reputation were questioned resulting in children being withdrawn from the school, the school not being selected by parents and general staff dissatisfaction.        

As a local authority and board of governors you must have been aware of this, what steps did you take to address the situation and was the local authority aware of the head teachers previous questionable performance?

2.        The local authority and board of governors must have been aware of the drop off in numbers relative to the projections, what steps were taken to investigate, validate and address the causes?

3.        What action was taken by the local authorities to investigate and address the high turnover of school governors, particularly the chairpersons?

4.        Were the board of governors provided the appropriate support to manage and address the emerging issues?

5.        What can we learn about what needs to be done to address and prevent such issues reoccurring?


Examples of poor leadership & governance

        Original references not validated and prior poor performance with    falling pupil numbers not discovered, after head teacher left this school numbers improved again.

        Poor engagement and follow up with parental concerns

        After 2017’s successful Ofstead report lack of engagement with school and staff, focus on St Hilda’s and “travel between”

        Improvement plans failed to gain traction or were simply blocked

        Focus on administration and not wider leadership

        Repeated refusal of extracurricular activities offered and suggested

        Reported concerns on several occasions as well as to external advisers and in surveys over last 5-6 years not acted upon or even followed up, no improvements/change experienced just gradual deterioration.

        School became isolated, staff and governors felt isolated

        No training or support of governors

        Attempted sale of school property and refusal of donations

        Employment of friends to provide services, contracts cancelled by new head.

        Not investigating and addressing reported bullying, blaming staff instead.

        Procurement of a curriculum that was questioned by staff and not used

        Failure to run open day and recruitment events proposed by staf and other organisations

        Governors act to close school without parental and community engagement.

        Failure to investigate, publicly recognise and address cause of pupil with drawls and fall of numbers.

        New head responsible for three other schools, some competing, obviously lacked time focus and probably conviction to turn it around.


Questions for NYCC

1.         Given the “unnusal circumstances” you recognised, please can the consultation process be suspended, and finance found to enable the governors supportive of continuation, supported by the action group, head teacher and staff to re-seed the school from next school year?

2.         Is a series of educational leadership and breakdowns in governance a valid reason to shut down a school?

3.         Does NYCC value village schools and if so, what does it value?

4.         If the numbers had not dropped to the position they are now, would the council have been looking to close Hovingham School or for that matter, any other schools?

5.         The consultation report states, “the main factor prompting the request is there are currently no pupils on roll at Hovingham'.

a.   If that is the main factor, has enough been done to resolve the decline in numbers?

b.   Why are there no options to keep the school open?

6.         The consultation report and presentation failed to address the “highly unusual” drop of in pupils at the school and the presentation panel was unable to postulate the cause.

a.   What was the cause of the drop of in pupils and was this ever investigated?

b.   Was this occurrence, a failure of educational leadership and governance (of the school and local authority), deemed an opportunity to easily close some school capacity?

c.   Has the timeframe of the consultation been shortened to facilitate this and the redundancy of staff in the current financial year?

d.   With all schools open and performing well how would the council address closure?

e.   What do the council and governors make of the graph which shows the comparison between Wykeham and Hovingham numbers of pupils when the head was in control?

f.    When the council notice pupil numbers dropping at a school, what is the protocol? Was this followed? If not, why not?

7.         Given that the governors commissioned two staff well-being surveys April 2021 and November 2021:

a.   What did the council do when the results showed issues?

b.   How did the council fulfil their duty of care for the wellbeing of staff when these results were seen?

c.   Is it possible that staff feel failed by their management and may now bring constructive dismissal claims?

8.         The local authority is seeking sites for residential development. How will the local authority provision for growth in demand with existing local schools and their respective locations? Were these included in forecasts?

9.         At the consultative meeting it was stated 40 children of primary school age currently live in the catchment area of Hovingham, what is the forecast of these numbers in the future?

10.      Is there a programme / policy that looks to reduce the number of schools?

a.   If no, then surely it would be sensible to actively try to resolve the decline in numbers before leaping into a proposal to close?

b.   If yes, where is that policy available to the community?

11.      Of course, finance is a key concern. Noting the statement within the consultation document, what options would NYCC have regarding financing the school in the interim period whilst it addresses the issues that led to the numbers falling and a return to delivering education?

12.      Can you be creative in your response to this consultation? The heart of the school is still there. The staff are outstanding, the quality of education is exemplary, it’s a beautiful building with a supportive community and organisational partners. Surely we can be more creative and do more to share skills and educational experiences without losing schools?

13.      Wraparound care is highly requested, takes time to put in place and to get actual take up. What alternative funding and support can be accessed using and leveraging schools?

14.      Appreciating you can’t simply compute transport costs; please can you provide forecasts of transport costs for the two closure cases?

15.     Surely its better to invest funds into education and not transport?

16.     At the public consultative meeting the panel indicated a target of 27 pupils to enable the school to be viable. What criteria have they based the 27-pupil target on?  If it is on the spending model that the school was on then that is misleading as, when I was there, I felt strongly that there were many inefficiencies.

Missed Opportunities

        Why were baby and toddler group not able to combine sessions with the outdoor play are at Hovingham school?

        Numerous attempts of the previous Slingsby head teacher to collaborate with Hovingham school were rebuffed

        Hovingham Estate are very supportive of the school and offered the Hall, Countryside learning day amongst other offers that were largely not taken up

        How can it have been an open secret within the community that the head was not performing, and this was the reason people were not bringing their children to Hovingham yet the council and governors did nothing about it?

        Why, once he has resigned, was this not seen as an opportunity to relaunch the schools?

        Why were Hovingham school staff withdrawn from cluster events?


Hovingham School Action Group



Last month, the council has announced a consultation to close Hovingham Primary School.

I believe the report presented to Cllrs by email does not recognise some of the underlying reasons for the drop in numbers to 0. After the community meeting last week, there were clear indications that the whole storey has not been addressed.

There indications are that the previous head teachers community engagement, performance and reputation were questioned by many, at many times, resulting in reputational damage to the school leading to children being withdrawn from the school, and thus not it being selected by parents of children about to enter the system.

The local authority must have been aware of the drop off in numbers relative to the projections.

There was a strong feeling within the community that there has been a series of problems including a failure to investigate, publicly recognise and address cause of pupil withdrawals and fall of numbers.

A number of issues were reported at the meeting and subsequently by email to me as the representative in the area:

For example

•    Not investigating and addressing reported bullying, blaming staff instead.

•    Poor engagement and follow up with parental concerns

•    Improvement plans failed to gain traction or were simply blocked

•    Repeated refusal of extracurricular activities offered and suggested

•    Reported concerns on several occasions as well as to external advisers and in surveys over last 5-6 years not acted upon or even followed up

•    No improvements/change experienced just gradual deterioration.

•    School became isolated, staff and governors felt isolated

•    No training or support of governors

•    Attempted sale of school property and refusal of donations

•    Employment of friends to provide services, contracts cancelled by new head.

•    Not investigating and addressing reported bullying, blaming staff instead.

•    The external and costly procurement of a curriculum that was rightly challenged by the staff and eventually shown to not be fit for purpose.

•    Failure to run open day and recruitment events proposed by staff and other organisations

•    Lack of parental and community engagement.


As you can see, this has raised many questions that I would like answering.

What action was taken by the local authorities to investigate and address the high turnover of school governors, particularly the chairpersons?

Were the board of governors provided the appropriate support to manage and address the emerging issues?

I suspect this or similar circumstances has happened before, What can we learn about what needs to be done to address and prevent such issues reoccurring?

What steps were taken to investigate, validate and address the causes of such a trend in pupil loss, particularly when there are many preschool children in the area?


Cllr. Steve Mason





Item 1: 
 See response 39 above.