Burton-in-Lonsdale School will close at the end of term

A CRAVEN primary school with just 12 pupils - all boys - is to close at the end of the summer term.

Richard Thornton's CoE Primary , Burton-in-Lonsdale, will close on August 31 following a decision by North Yorkshire County Council's Executive on Tuesday.

Councillors also agreed to an extension of the catchment area of High Bentham Community Primary School from September 1 to include the area currently served by Richard Thornton's.

The school, its governors and parents and the parish council have fought against the closure, which was first mooted last year.

Governors proposed either sharing the role of headteacher with a partner school or making the job part time.

They believed the move would save money and give the school a chance to make it more attractive to potential parents.

It had been given a year's stay of execution until October this year, but continuing falling pupil numbers and a predicted budget deficit of almost £30,000 for 2014/15 meant a re-think by the council.

Last month, the council said it believed the school, which has a capacity of 90, would find it increasingly difficult to preserve the quality and breadth of education needed.

It estimated at least 29 pupils were needed to make the school financially viable and that forecasts indicated numbers would not improve in the short term.

It also raised concerns that without any girls on its roll, the school suffered from a gender inbalance.

Ian Thompson, chairman of Burton Parish Council and one of the school's governors, said it was a disappointing but not unexpected decision.

"It is disappointing that the alternatives to closure raised by governors were not considered valid by North Yorkshire County Council, and we are seriously concerned at the long term effect on the village of young families."

Coun Thompson added all families considered schooling when looking for somewhere to live and he believed Burton would suffer without a primary school.

North Yorkshire launched a brief consultation in February and, on Tuesday, the decision to close was confirmed to the school, which is currently on half term holiday.

In the executive report by the corporate director of children and young peoples services, it says alternative options were considered by officers.

However, it "remained the view of officers" that the school "remained unviable and this promoted the second consultation led by the county council".

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