A BARROW school is one step closer to closing because of a lack of pupils.

A consultation launched to gauge opinion on the closure of North Walney Primary and Nursery School has now ended.

Westmorland and Furness Council's cabinet will meet next week to trigger a four-week ‘representation period’.

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The cabinet will then make a final decision on the proposal within a period of two months.

Due to declining birth rates on Walney Island, it is proposed the school will close from August 31, 2024.

The council said: "It is to the credit of the leadership, staff, parents and pupils of North Walney Nursery and Primary School that the school has continued to provide a quality educational offer during what has proven to have been a challenging period for the school.

"We are concerned about the increasing pressure upon both the leadership and staff of North Walney Nursery and Primary School to continue to provide a quality educational offer given the ongoing decline in the number of pupils at the school and the resulting impact on the school’s financial position."

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When the consultation period started, there were just 27 children at the school, with the facilities able to accommodate 161.

The council said the factors surrounding the school met the criteria that allows an educational institution to be closed.

These are;

  • a lack of demand for a school in the medium to long term
  • surplus places being available elsewhere in the local area which can accommodate displaced pupils,
  • the school no longer being deemed viable.

With North Walney being classified as a 'rural school', the council added that the case had to be 'strong and clearly in the best interests of educational provision in the area'.

The council blamed a lack of 'substantial housing developments' on the island for not encouraging inward migration and a boost to the population, which would have helped the school stay open.

Although they commended the staff for their continued efforts, the council believed that a subsequent Ofsted inspection would see the school's rating drop from 'good'.

The workload of current staff, with the recruitment of new teachers proving to be 'difficult', was said to now be 'unsustainable'.

A report said: "Teachers and other staff will be offered bespoke packages of support. This may include career advice, skills development, pension advice, financial planning support, and, redundancy estimates in order to enable each member of staff to make the most appropriate decisions about their future based upon their own personal and professional situation."

The cabinet will meet at Barrow Town Hall on January 23.