“SAVE our school” - that’s the message from parents, staff and locals worried their village school may be forced to close.

City of York Council has told Naburn Church of England Primary, which has seen pupil numbers fall to just 33, that it must become part of an academy chain within eight months or face the risk of closure.

The council is adopting a ‘twin track’ approach in which a search for an academy sponsor will run alongside a consultation which could lead to the school closing.

But speaking ahead of a meeting this evening to discuss the school’s future, parent and PTA member Alexis Stevens, whose four-year-old daughter goes to the school, said: “My daughter is so happy at Naburn. She is learning and thriving.

“All the staff are doing an amazing job. I volunteer at the school and can see first-hand how well the children are developing, learning and enjoy being at school. Everybody says the same: We are happy for the school to be part of an academy, so long as it does not close.”

Parish council chair Cllr Laurie Gunson told The Press that the school was an 'integral part of the village'. "It is vital we keep it going," he said. "The whole village is behind it.”

The school has traditionally had a good reputation. It was judged ‘Outstanding’ by Ofsted 14 years ago. But following an inspection last December, it has now been rated ‘inadequate’.

Part of the problem is falling pupil numbers. For several years, many pupils have come from travelling families on a nearby site. When that site closed recently, the school lost more than a dozen children.

York Press: Staff and children outside Naburn Primary this week

Headteacher Jonathan Green said before the half-term holiday in February, there were 52 children enrolled. After half term, that had fallen to 39.

But Mr Green, who was appointed on a part-time basis last September, is confident he can turn things around.

“We having been working hard since Ofsted to make all the necessary improvements,” he said. “It has been disappointing to see children leave the school, but this drives my commitment to get this school back to good and outstanding. I am blessed with a superb staff (and) a highly motivated, intelligent governing body who want to make the school successful. Our parents are with us. We will fight to save our valued village school. Come on Naburn!”

Alexis Stevens said Mr Green had “injected passion and energy” into the school. She said that as Germany Beck was developed there would be a real need for school places - and that Mr Green should be given time. “(He) has only been in place since September, giving him barely any time to make a real impact before the Ofsted team visited. Many of us feel if Ofsted visited now the outcome would have been very different."

York Press: Cllr Ian Cuthbertson and City of York Council’s West Offices

Anne Clark, a Naburn parish councillor who is also vice-chair of the school's governors, said that headteacher Jonathan Green had been 'working tirelessly for the school'.

"His determination and commitment is inspirational, as are our amazing parents who are passionate in their support of the school, which is the life and soul of our village," she said.

"I know we’ll be getting a lot of support from residents and I’d like to thank them that the Governors are doing everything in their power to bring the school through this challenging time.”

In a statement to The Press Cllr Ian Cuthbertson, the executive member for education at City of York Council, said: “We recognise the important role that Naburn School plays in the local community and we are working hard to find the best solution. However, the problems facing the school are clearly challenging. The ‘twin-track’ approach of working to identify an academy sponsor whilst consulting the community on the future of primary school places in the village offers the best chance of dealing with the situation.”

Maxine Squire, the council's assistant director for education and skills, added that the council was determined to ensure that 'all possible options for the sustainability of the school' were fully considered.

Tonight’s meeting is at 5.30pm, either in the school itself or in nearby Naburn village hall, depending on numbers.