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Rural Schools

Volume 115: debated on Tuesday 5 May 1987

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asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science if he will make a statement on his policy on the closure of schools in rural areas.

Following wide consultation, I shall be issuing later this week a circular giving comprehensive advice on school provision and organisation. The circular will make it clear that I shall expect local authorities and voluntary bodies, in formulating their proposals, to take account of the general principles set out in the White Paper "Better Schools" about the size at which schools of different types can economically deliver a satisfactory curriculum; but that these principles are not to be interpreted as narrowly prescriptive or as providing a set of benchmarks for the closure of schools.I recognise the wide degree of support that many rural schools command within their local communities. The circular will confirm that assessing the viability of an individual school is not solely a matter of the number of pupils on roll. I would expect proposals also to take account of wider considerations such as denominational choice; local geography; the distances to be travelled to alternative schools in the event of closure; and the age of the children making these journeys.