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Proposals to close a rural primary school considered

Published July 05, 2022 3.53pm

Proposals to close a primary school that has the lowest pupil numbers of any school in County Durham are being put to councillors next week.

Our Cabinet is being asked to approve the closure of Forest of Teesdale Primary School at the end of this academic year, as part of our duty to secure good outcomes for all children and young people.

One child on roll 

The school is located in the small rural community of Forest-in-Teesdale. It currently has just one child on roll and there are no anticipated developments in the area that would increase numbers.

Although the most recent Ofsted inspection in 2018 judged the school to be 'Good', it also identified many weaknesses.

As a result of this, a decision was made to enrich and widen the curriculum at the school through collaboration with three other small primary schools in the upper dales, leading to the creation of the Upper Durham Dales Federation.

While the federation has worked to provide more social opportunities for all pupils across its schools, no further pupils have been enrolled at Forest of Teesdale Primary.

'In the best interests of all involved'

Cllr Ted Henderson, Cabinet member for children and young people's services, said: "We are committed to securing good outcomes for all our children and young people here in County Durham. We believe that the proposal to close Forest of Teesdale Primary School is in the best interests of all involved.

"Educating children in a larger school will allow for more social interaction and a broader curriculum, which will help to improve educational outcomes for all and have a positive impact on students, staff and the wider community. It will also help to ensure our schools are sustainable and able to meet the challenges of a changing educational environment."

Proposals supported during consultation

A six-week consultation, which we carried out in February this year, found that three-quarters of respondents either strongly agreed or agreed with proposals to close the school.

This was followed by a statutory notice being published on 5 May 2022, which received no responses.

If approved by Cabinet, the Forest of Teesdale Primary School will close on 31 August 2022.

The meeting will take place at 9.30am on Wednesday 13 July. More information can be found at Cabinet agenda and minutes - 13 July 2022.