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Schools: Closures

Volume 461: debated on Monday 11 June 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what weight a local authority should give to a consistent rating of “excellent” when considering a small rural school for closure under a surplus places reduction strategy. (140876)

Before publishing proposals to close a school a local authority must consult all interested parties on its proposals, including the school's staff, governors and parents, and other schools and local authorities likely to be affected. The authority must provide sufficient information and allow adequate time for those being consulted to form a view and make their views known, and it must take those views into account in deciding whether to go ahead and publish its proposals.

When deciding proposals to close a school the local authority must take account of statutory guidance issued by the Secretary of State. The guidance does not specify the weightings that decision-makers should apply to the various factors they take into account, but it makes clear that they must be satisfied that closing the school would contribute to raising the standard of provision locally and lead to improved attainment for children. The statutory guidance also includes a presumption against closing rural primary schools. Although this does not mean that no rural primary school will ever close, the case for closure needs to be strong.