Weaverthorpe School will close this summer, despite objections from the community

It has been on the cards for several months, but education chiefs have confirmed a small primary school in the Wolds will close this summer.

Weaverthorpe Parish Council made a last-ditch attempt to keep its village school open, but North Yorkshire County Council’s executive sealed the school’s fate at a meeting last Tuesday (21st June).

Amanda Newbold, assistant director for education and skills at North Yorkshire County Council, said: “It is with great regret that the decision has been taken to close Weaverthorpe.

“We are a local authority with many small schools, which we work hard to support, but after spending many months exploring all other options, there was no alternative but for the school’s interim executive board to approach the county council and request a closure.

“We are now working with families to enable a smooth transition for the school’s remaining pupils to attend nearby primary schools.”

After months of consultation, the county council published public notices of its intention to close the school on April 1st, giving four weeks for written objections to be lodged.

As a result, Weaverthorpe Parish Council wrote to the Secretary of State for Education urging all of those involved in deciding the school’s fate to ‘think outside the box’ to try to find a solution.

Its letter concluded: “Since the possibility of the school closing was first announced in November 2021, various meetings connected with the consultation have taken place, but we are constantly told that a process is being followed and many of the parents and public were convinced that the decision was made in 2021 and, despite the consultation, the outcome was pre-determined.

“What this parish council is frustrated with is that no one seems to be looking for alternatives.

“The process is being followed and the outcome was in fact pre-determined and alternatives are not being sought.

“We therefore ask that you as Secretary of State for Education and others copied in on this correspondence make some change happen and encourage those people in the Regional Schools Commissioners Office and the local authority to think “outside the box” to try and find a solution to keeping our School open and preserving a community as a whole and not letting Weaverthorpe become a retirement village, without the presence and sounds of children in our community.”

It had suggested the possibility of forming a ‘pyramid academy’ with Norton College had not been properly explored, but NYCC said ‘it is not possible for a maintained church school such as Weaverthorpe to enter a federation with a non-faith academy’.

Weaverthorpe CE VC Primary School was inspected by Ofsted in January 2020 and found to be inadequate.

Any maintained school which is judged inadequate by Ofsted is required to become a sponsored academy, but the Regional Schools Commissioner was unable to secure an Academy Trust to sponsor the school due to viability concerns.

As a result of last Tuesday’s decision, the catchment area of Luttons Community Primary School will be expanded from September this year to include the current Weaverthorpe catchment area.

The current joint catchment area of Weaverthorpe and Hertford Vale CE Primary Schools, serving Butterwick, will remain part of Hertford Vale’s catchment area.

A free minibus will be provided between Weaverthorpe and Luttons School for pupils living more than two miles away from their new school.

Weaverthorpe Parish Council had also raised issues such as the improvement in standards at the village school since the Ofsted inspection and the fact the population and demographics of the population could change in the future.

But in a report to NYCC’s executive, Matt George, from its strategic planning team, stated: “The number of children at Weaverthorpe CE VC Primary School has been falling over the past few years.

“At the start of the consultation, there were 25 pupils on roll and, as at 10th June 2022, there were 15 pupils on roll in the school, plus two in the school nursery. The school can accommodate up to 49 pupils if all spaces are in use.

“Forecasts indicate that these numbers will not recover significantly in the longer term and may reduce still further.

“Year 6 is one of the larger year groups with six pupils, so it is likely that September 2022 would see an overall reduction in the total pupil roll.”

Only one child had applied to join Reception this September.

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