Re Statutory Proposal for closure of Horton in Ribblesdale School
" Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime". Maimonides.
If a man has the means to survive he will survive. If a community has the means to survive it will survive. If you take the school out of the community you are removing one of the key elements for its survival.
Both Craven District Council and Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority have stated that the proposal to close Horton In Ribblesdale School runs counter to their aims. In answering these concerns superficially you do not address the fundamental fact- if there is no school young people will not be attracted to make their homes in the village. There will not be growth in the population, business will not be brought to the area. There will be less employment opportunities for local dales people etc etc. The village will degenerate. What will happen to the Church ? Will that be the next to go?
Numbers of people from the community taking lunches at school are not accurate they are more than 4 or 5.
Consultation documents repeatedly cite the reasons for closure as:
•Very low pupil numbers. Is it a surprise that five children have left since September when it was announced that the school would close in April?
•Breadth of Curriculum. Teachers are required to meet the needs of the children in their care, they do so every day everywhere in the country, and have been doing so sucessfully at Horton for years. We are teachers and have experience of differentiated learning.
•The school's financial position. We believe the school was financially viable but funds were depleted after County recommendation for overly expensive staff coverage when there was no Headteacher. Friends of the school raised substantial sums to support the school and curriculum. There needs to be specific evidence of the school's financial position.
•Leadership. Governors were persuaded that it would be impossible to recruit a headteacher and the timing of advertising during school holidays, following Mrs Wood's retirement was not conducive to filling the vacancy. The recently changed Governing Body were able to recruit a new headteacher and teacher at very short notice.
When the Governors and Friends of the School are so willing to fight to generate funding for the school can you really say that there should not be a presumption against the closure of Horton School? Surely they deserve the chance to show that they can give the school and the community new hope?
Other small schools in the region have succeeded in doing this.
On the subject of travel, I challenge executive members of the committee to travel the lane between Helwith Bridge and Austwick, which has for the most part no mobile 'phone coverage, and to agree that they would like their children/grandchildren to do this journey every school day.
Actions of the local authority seem to have subverted the future of the school and have injected a malaise within those associated with the school, which has been counter-productive. Now is the time to demonstrate that you really care about the school and the community, as much as you say you do, by allowing time for the new enthusiastic team from the school and community to succeed.
Angela & Alan Jupp
Pant Lane Austwick, North Yorkshire