A rural village primary school in North Yorkshire could close due to dwindling pupil numbers - despite opposition from parents,

For the last 15 years, St Hilda’s Church of England Primary School in Ampleforth, has had no more than 36 pupils and currently only has 13 children on roll.

The school’s governing board recently approached North Yorkshire Council to request a consultation on a proposal to close the school, which has experienced growing pressure on its finances and challenges with future sources of leadership.

The council considered the request yesterday (February 20) and the executive member for education, learning and skills, Cllr Annabel Wilkinson, has decided to proceed with the consultation.

Cllr Wilkinson said: “A decision to consult on potentially closing a school is always an extremely hard one to have to make. No-one wants to be in this position. North Yorkshire maintains more small, rural schools than any other local authority in the country. Sadly, the reality is that many of our schools, particularly those in rural areas, are seeing pupil numbers reduce year-on-year. Projected pupil numbers indicate that St Hilda’s Church of England Primary School in Ampleforth faces a challenging financial position.

“As numbers fall, it is increasingly difficult to provide the remaining pupils with access to a full range of experiences and the quality of education they require. Sadly, delaying to take action is simply not an option anymore.”

Parents have launched a campaign to keep a ‘lovely school’ open after a consultation on its possible closure was announced.

After a discussion at a recent governors’ meeting at St Hilda’s Primary School in Ampleforth regarding pupil numbers, financial prospects and future sources of leadership, it was decided to approach North Yorkshire Council and request the closure consultation.

However, parents have said several families are planning to send their children to the school and last month launched a campaign and a petition to keep it open.

Amanda Smith, a parent, said: “My daughter moved here in September from another school and I have no regrets, she is very happy here and her learning has really come on in a short time. She has settled in really well, made friends easily and is very fond of the staff, the change in her has been huge. She is really benefitting from the smaller class sizes. I now plan to send my younger daughter here in 2025.

“I’m extremely impressed with the level of education this school offers and it is varied as well. There is lots of outdoor space, they do fun activities and have dedicated sports sessions twice a week. I definitely do not want to see it close because of bureaucrats at the Council and find it absurd that we might lose another rural, village, Church of England School so soon after the sad loss of Hovingham, these schools are important for our communities.”

North Yorkshire Councillor George Jabbour, who represents parishes within the catchment area of St Hilda’s, commented: “I know from working with various stakeholders, speaking with parents and raising community concerns during the consultation process that another treasured local school went through about a year ago how anxious residents, parents and members of staff must feel now about the future of St Hilda’s Church of England Primary School.


“As a result, I visited St Hilda’s to speak with members of staff and with parents during the Open Afternoon that they recently organised.  I saw first-hand how determined everyone is and how hard the community is working to save this wonderful rural school.”

The consultation to close the school will begin on March 1 and run for six weeks and will include a public meeting. The council’s executive is then due to consider the consultation feedback in May.

If the proposed closure is approved at the end of the required process, then St Hilda’s Church of England Primary School would shut on August 31.