YORK Outer MP Julian Sturdy is calling on the regional schools commissioner to give more time to a village school threatened with closure.

The MP, backed by local ward councillor Christian Vassie, says there is huge community support for Naburn Church of England Primary School, even though the number of pupils has fallen to just 33.

Both men attended a packed meeting in the village last Thursday to discuss the school's future.

"The enthusiasm and support for the school and the new headteacher - not just from parents but from the whole community - was amazing, heart-warming," Mr Sturdy said. "We've got to secure the future of what is an amazing and successful school.

"It is clear the school has turned a corner. So the first thing we can do is to buy time."

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’.

That, combined with the falling number of pupils, has led to it being told it must become part of an academy chain within six to 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.

Mr Sturdy told The Press he would be seeking an urgent meeting with the regional schools commissioner 'as soon as possible' to press for the school to be given more time.

Cllr Vassie said there had been real 'community horror' at last week's meeting that the school had been give only a few months to turn itself around.

The tight deadline was a recipe for deterring new parents, he said. "Why would anyone want their child to attend a school in September if they knew it was going to close two months later?"

The school's governors met at 5pm on Monday night, and headteacher Jonathan Green and Cllr Vassie then attended a parish council later that evening.

Mr Green, who was only appointed last September, said: "We have worked hard to improve all the aspects that the Ofsted inspection brought to our attention. There have been encouraging signs of rapid improvement. I have been overwhelmed by the level of support. We are more determined than ever to keep our wonderful school.”

In a statement to The Press, Naburn Parish Council added: "(We) were pleased to meet with Jonathan Green and Christian Vassie to hear about the positive steps being taken.

"The parish council will be looking at ways of attracting young families into the village by considering the provision of housing targeting that demographic. In the shorter term, the council is committed to help the school to attract new admissions from outlying villages and in particular, Germany Beck."

Maxine Squire, Assistant Director of Education and Skills at City of York Council, said: “The council remains fully committed to exploring all the options available.

“We’re also continuing to work closely with the headteacher, diocese and local multi academy trusts to ensure the 33 pupils at the school are able to access the highest quality education.”