Hope Sentamu Learning Trust has commenced a listening period today (10 September) further to the announcement that Baldersby St James CE Primary School will close on 31 August 2022.
The decision has been taken following two rounds of detailed advice to the Secretary of State, who is in agreement that the school should close. Hope Sentamu Learning Trust has also worked collaboratively with the Department for Education (DfE), North Yorkshire County Council (NYCC) and the Diocese of York. Parents and staff have been informed.
Pupil numbers at the school have been low for several years, posing a continual challenge to the school in providing the breadth of educational experience for its pupils. The small, rural school has just 22 pupils in two classes, one for Key Stage 1 pupils and the other for Key Stage 2. Some year groups have just one student.
Pupil numbers show no prospect of improving for many years ahead, with predictions for demand for school places showing a steady decline until 2031/32.
Hope Sentamu Learning Trust CEO, Helen Winn said: “This has not been an easy decision, but after a great deal of consideration, we came to the conclusion that this is the best resolution for the children concerned and their education.
“As part of the process, we have carefully looked at potential options, including speaking to other local multi-academy trusts, looking at the possibility of sharing the delivery of the curriculum with schools within and outside Hope Sentamu, and changing the nature of provision at the school but ultimately none of the options were practically viable.
“Due to the low intake at Baldersby St James, it has proved impossible to deliver the broad, balanced curriculum the children deserve. Whilst small classes can in some cases offer some advantages, there is a level beyond which numbers become too low and this can have a negative impact on pupils’ developmental progress.”
Chair of the Hope Sentamu Learning Trust Board, Tony Myers adds: “As a Trust, we have carefully researched and considered all potential options available to support the continued operation of the school. The Trust Board and senior management feel that, regrettably, closure is the only viable option.
“There is not the demand for a small village school when there are other larger schools in the nearby villages and towns of Thirsk and Ripon, including church schools, where children can be in classes with their chronological peers. We have established that there is quality provision in those schools and that they have capacity to take existing pupils.
“We are committed to ensuring that all pupils and their families are fully supported throughout the next school year, both during their remaining time at Baldersby St James and as they transition to their next school.”
The Trust is now conducting a ‘listening period,’ giving an opportunity for stakeholders and interested parties such as pupils, parents and staff to be provided with more information about the proposed closure process. It is also an opportunity for stakeholders to submit their views on how the process can best be managed.
The six-week listening period begins on 10 September and will end on 22 October. Any views can be sent by email to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Once the listening period has ended, the Trust and NYCC will work closely together to support families and pupils with the choice and move to a new school.
10 September 2021