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Primary Schools

Volume 447: debated on Thursday 15 June 2006

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills whether it is his policy that primary schools in England with fewer than 100 pupils should be closed. (76843)

It is not the Departments policy that primary schools in England with fewer than 100 pupils should be closed. Local authorities are responsible for balancing the supply and demand of places in their areas to ensure schools serve the needs of their local communities and provide good quality education in the most cost effective way. As part of this, they need to determine the numbers and sizes of schools they need, taking into account the views and aspirations of parents and other stakeholders.

Many small schools are also rural schools and there is a presumption against the closure of these schools. Although this does not mean that no rural school will ever close, the case for closure needs to be strong and clearly in the best interests of education provision in the area. Since the presumption was introduced in February 1998 the number of rural schools approved for closure has fallen from an average of 30 a year to six a year. Statutory guidance to school organisation committees and the schools adjudicator also makes clear that they must not assume a school must be of a certain size to be a good school.