A Craven primary school has been given a stay of execution.

Richard Thornton CE Primary School at Burton-in-Lonsdale was threatened with closure after pupil numbers fell to 13.

It was claimed the number made the school unviable and also raised fears the quality of education would not be preserved as numbers continued to fall.

Plans to close the school at the end of this school year were announced last year but met strong opposition.

Now, following lengthy public consultation, governors have announced they will not proceed with the closure until they have investigated “an alternative option”. But head teacher Chris Norris warned that the local authority could still go ahead with its closure.

Remaining tight-lipped over what alternative was being considered, he said: “Everyone is working very hard to find a solution but obviously it’s not finalised and there’s still a lot of work to do.”

Ian Thompson, chairman of Burton-in-Lonsdale Parish Council, said governors were not allowed to project a negative budget so they either had to find money or reduce costs.

“Everybody is very pleased but it’s too early to feel relieved,” he said. “It’s the effect on the village that worries us. If there’s not a school it would change the social fabric of the village and we want to keep the village alive.”

Mr Norris said governors could post a “permissible deficit” but would have to convince the local authority that within two years they could reasonably predict a positive budget.

A public meeting in December heard 17 more pupils would be needed to balance the books and by 2015 the school would be £25,000 in the red, with the deficit rising to £70,000 by 2016.

North Yorkshire County Council said it was considering the governors’ decision not to proceed with statutory proposals.