A VILLAGE primary school needs to find an academy chain to take it over within eight months to prevent a process which could force it to close.

Naburn Church of England Primary School has been struggling for several years due to falling pupil numbers as families leave the village.

There are now just two classes at the school, one made up of pupils aged five to seven, with another composed of seven to 11 year olds, and the school can only afford a headteacher for three days a week.

It was given a rating of ‘inadequate’ by Ofsted following a December inspection, meaning that it legally must convert to an academy school.

Some parents are choosing to transfer their children to a school in nearby Escrick to find more age appropriate classes.

Maxine Squire, City of York Council’s assistant director of education and skills, said: “It is difficult for an academy sponsor to see it as a viable school in the future on the pupil numbers that it has.

"That is because its broader financial situation remains very uncertain and that makes it unattractive to an academy sponsor. 

“Its best chance is to go into a larger multi-academy trust that can actually put in executive management arrangements.”

The council has chosen to adopt a ‘twin track’ approach to the school’s future, meaning a consultation process, which could lead to the school closing altogether, will run alongside the search for an academy sponsor.

Wheldrake councillor Christian Vassie wants to see the school remain open.

He said: “This is about a community’s heart.

"Naburn has already lost its post office and is facing heavy-handed planning regulations that make it difficult for young couples to add extensions to their homes so that they can start a family. 

“At what point does a living community cease to be a place where generations live together?

"Are we condemning Naburn to becoming little more than a collection of retirement homes?”

A community engagement event will take place in the village over the next two weeks.

The council’s executive member for children, young people and education, Cllr Ian Cuthbertson, said the school needed support to strengthen areas of weakness.

He said: “Despite the fact the school staff are working hard, I think they need additional expertise to provide the additional breadth of curriculum delivery, discipline and the other areas of weakness identified in the Ofsted report.”