Driving through Wharfedale the other day I was mumbling to myself in grumpy old man fashion at seeing what appeared to be half a dozen children out in the rain without ‘proper’ coats on. As I got closer I realised they were scarecrows highlighting the plight of the threatened village school (and the state of my eyesight). I detest this obsession local authorities seem to have about closing rural schools. It’s another nail in the coffin of local communities – seems they won’t be happy until every village in the Dales has only a retired population with most of the housing belonging to holiday home owners, families having been driven away to be nearer a school. The closure of Arncliffe and Kettlewell schools will leave some children with a daily 34-mile round trip to Grassington on narrow roads which are quickly blocked by snow and floods. And so much for the government asking local authorities to cut carbon emissions. Kettlewell school was recently declared ‘outstanding’ by an Ofsted report – it beggars belief that anyone would want to close such a facility… they should be using this Ofsted accolade to attract families to the village, not the opposite.

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  1. Sara Barraclough

    Kettlewell Primary School is an OUTSTANDING Ofsted rated school. At a recent consulation meeting it was declared as a beacon for the Local Education Authority. The school has an excellent Head Teacher, teachers and support staff who are very creative and maintain the school finances and education. So, why close it? The school is the heart of our rural community serving over 100 square miles. 70% of our children travel to the school already on single track roads where in the winter the roads are dangerous and at times unpassable. The Local Education Authority wish to close the school as it may become unsustainable in 2014. Obviously, they have a bigger crystal ball than I have. The closure will mean that children as young as four will have to endure daily commutes of over 36 miles a day. The Local Education Authority wish to transport our rural children to an area where there are four Primary Schools within three miles of each other, two of which are 500 yards apart. To take Kettlewell Primary out of the “up dale” region will mean that the Dale will die. No famalies will move here, the local shop, youth hostel, post office, garage, pubs and garage will all close. Currently, 80% of the children that currenlty attend Kettlewell have “moved” into the area as their is a trend to move from the town to the rural countryside. I myself moved here in 2007 with two young children, if there had not been a school I would not have. To live in such a wonderful community where we work hard to sustain the facilites that are needed for a village will be lost forever. Lets hope that the LEA wake up and realise what a asett it is to educate our children in their communites.


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