HAMPSHIRE County Council has recommended that Ampfield Primary School should close following two consultations.

The latest consultation on the future of the Church of England school, in Knapp Lane, was requested school’s governing body in agreement with the Diocese of Winchester, following concerns about the school’s low pupil numbers and the implications for its future sustainability. 

The five-week consultation ended on Friday, March 1. A report outlining the responses to the statutory consultation and recommending the school’s closure will be considered by the Cabinet lead member for children’s services, Councillor Edward Heron, on Tuesday, March 26.

READ MORE: Ampfield Primary School to go to consultation over future

The recommendation to close the school reflects challenges resulting from the school’s consistently low intake of new pupils in recent years. Last month, the school had only 20 pupils on its roll with forecasts showing a further decline in future numbers.

Given the small number of children attending the school, pupils from a wide age range are taught together which impacts the school’s delivery of the National Curriculum.

As school budgets are primarily based on the number of pupils on roll, the school has also experienced growing pressure on its finances. Additionally, low pupil numbers impact on the school’s leadership and workload management as well as limiting the opportunities for children to socialise with peers in their own age group.

SEE ALSO: Caroline Nokes reacts to plan to close Ampfield Primary School

Hampshire Chronicle: Ampfield Primary SchoolAmpfield Primary School (Image: Contributed)

The school has been supported with these challenges by the county council’s School Improvement Service and in 2013 entered a federation with John Keble Church of England Primary School, which means that both schools share one governing body and leadership team but are funded separately. Nevertheless, the school’s future is considered unsustainable in a continued climate of low pupil numbers and the many associated complex challenges this presents. 

If the recommendation to close the school is approved, children could be relocated, if their parents so wished, to John Keble Church of England Primary School. Alternatively, parents could apply in the usual way for places at other local schools, with support from the School Admissions team. School transport may be provided in this instance, in line with the county council’s policy. The school would close on August 31, making this its last academic year.

Staff would also be closely supported by the local authority in line with the standard processes.