That the Executive:
i. Agree that statutory proposals and notices be published on 30 March 2023 proposing to cease to maintain Skelton Newby Hall CE Primary School with effect from 31 August 2023; and proposing that the catchment area of Kirby Hill CE VC be expanded with effect from 1 September 2023 to serve the area currently served by Skelton Newby Hall CE VC School.
ii. Schedule taking a final decision on these proposals on 30 May 2023.
Considered – A report of the Corporate Director – Children and Young People’s Service, detailing the outcome of the public consultation on a proposal to close Skelton Newby Hall CE VC Primary School, and asking the Executive is asked to consider the responses to the consultation, to authorise the publication of statutory proposals, and to schedule taking a final decision on the proposal on 30 May 2023.
County Councillor Annabel Wilkinson introduced the report and provided an overview of the background to the proposal to close the school. She also drew attention to the public consultation that had taken place and the responses received, as detailed in Appendix 5 of the report, and the proposal to extend the catchment area of Kirby Hill CE VC Primary to serve the area currently served by Skelton Newby Hall Primary.
The Chairman invited Mr Guy Critchlow, Chairman of Skelton cum Newby Parish Council, to read out his public submission as follows:
‘Chair, Councillors, and Officers of the Council, thank you for the opportunity to share a statement from the community of Skelton on Ure.
Three minutes to put the case for Skelton Newby Hall Primary School. We are not wearing rose tinted spectacles when making the case for our school to remain open. Our school is viable and valuable to the village and surrounding areas.
As you will be aware and as a start point, the government, “expects all decision makers to adopt a presumption against the closure of rural schools. This does not mean that a rural school will never close, but that the case for closure should be strong and clearly in the best interests of educational provision in the area.”
The report has put the case that that the basis of closure is two reasons, the falling roll and maintaining the quality & breadth of education for all year groups. Indeed there is now only one pupil on the roll. This is not the natural state of affairs for this school. This is not organically driven. Our school is in this position as a result of a failed federation with Sharow School.
In 2021, Ofsted has recorded that Sharow School has issues of staff absenteeism, unaddressed bullying concerns, and governance with a special Chair appointed last September. It’s short inspection noted it would have been downgraded had it been a full inspection, which we understand has just taken place.
Our school has not been marketed appropriately to attract new pupils, which was incorrectly recorded in the minutes of the public meeting. The report notes no new housing developments in our current catchment. This lies at the heart of the matter. Our catchment does not currently include the 800 houses in development within five miles of our school which do not even know we exist.
Parents of potential pupils were left underwhelmed when they enquired about spaces; during the course of the last decade, and especially the last few years, the reputation of the federation has led parents in the ... view the full minutes text for item 209