Councillors today agreed to publish proposals to close a village school with declining pupil numbers in a move that would see children transferred to another local school.
Cumbria County Council’s Cabinet gave approval to put forward proposals to close Captain Shaw’s School in Bootle from August 31.
If the closure goes ahead, children still on the roll would be transferred to the nearby Waberthwaite School in time for the next school year.
Because a school’s income is linked to the number of pupils on roll, Captain Shaw’s budget has been stretched.
After meeting staffing costs very little cash has been left to provide other educational resources and pupil projections suggest it’s unlikely that the pupil roll will increase significantly in future years, meaning the budgetary situation is unlikely to improve.
With this in mind the council feels the prospects for children receiving a quality education in future are unsatisfactory.
To gauge local opinion on proposals for closing Captain Shaw’s, the county council held a consultation with parents, governors, staff and pupils. The council has considered the community’s feedback very carefully and acknowledges the strong feelings that the proposals have generated.
While a decision has been taken today to publish proposals to close the school, the final decision on whether the closure goes ahead can only be taken by Cabinet after formal proposals have been published, and at the end of a six-week period during which any interested party can write in with their views.
At its meeting on March 15 Cabinet will consider all information gathered and decide whether to proceed with closure.
Councillor Duncan Fairbairn, Cumbria County Council’s cabinet member for schools and learning, said: "In an ideal world we wouldn’t have to look at closing any schools and while this has been a very difficult decision to take, the priority has to be the standard of education on offer to local children. Looking to the future we feel that Captain Shaw’s is very unlikely to be able to provide that standard.
"In its 2012/13 budget the school predicts it will spend 94 per cent of its budget on staffing compared to a recommended level of between 80 per cent – 85 per cent so the scope to spend on other resources is therefore very limited.
"We don’t take the decision to propose closing any school lightly, particularly rural schools, but in this case we have to act in what we feel is the best interests of children’s education.”
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