In the 1960s when Laurence Olivier was choosing the architect who would design the National Theatre in London, he asked each of them what they thought would be the most important aspect of the building. The architect Denys Lasdun, replied: “ Its soul”. He got the job. Olivier and Lasdun both understood a structure is more than bricks and mortar, it’s about the people and the ethos that inhabit it.
I write as not a theatre but a very special 300 hundred year old village school, Horton-In-Ribblesdale, the soul of its community, sitting at the foot of Pen-y-ghent is under threat of closure, by North Yorkshire County Council (NYCC).
As a study carried out in the 1970s by The Times Newspaper showed, close a village school and you are in effect closing the village. Horton school is so much more than just a building where children go to be educated, it hosts community lunches, toddler groups and nursery provision, all lost if the school closes Horton is the only Dales Outdoor school, where the outdoors is not solely a place where children run around and then return to the classroom, but a place to develop physically, intellectually, emotionally and socially. This unique learning experience is strongly supported by the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority and the Millennium Trust. In particular for children with Special Educational Needs Outdoor schools can provide different opportunities for them to discover their talents. I write as a Dyslexic and know first hand the difficulties children can face in some schools. Rather than close this Ofsted rated outstanding school, NYCC should be celebrating and supporting such a vibrant and dynamic school as Horton.
I am a young man aged 21, hoping one day to become a teacher and Horton is exactly the child centred, creative school I would very much like to teach in, whose soul is dedicated to the poet WB Yeats idea of Education; it’s not about filling a bucket but lighting a fire.
Yours sincerely Joe Dillon, Hammerton Drive, Hellifield