A village primary school which was given a chance to increase its pupil numbers is now to close – with no pupils on roll.

Plans to close Hexton JMI were first considered by the county council in 2021. But those proposals were dropped, amid pleas to allow the school the chance to boost pupil numbers.

When the plans re-emerged last year (2023) there were just 21 pupils on roll at the school, which has places for 70. By September those numbers had dropped to 11.

At a meeting of the cabinet yesterday (March 18), councillors heard that numbers had since dropped further, and agreed that the school should formally close from April 14.

Initially the plan had been to close the school in August, but it was brought forward after a further drop in numbers to two and then to zero.

At the meeting, deputy executive member for education, libraries and learning Cllr Mark Mills-Bishop acknowledged there had been “significant concerns over the school’s future financial viability and its ability to sustain the quality of education”.

Schools are mainly funded based on the number of pupils they have. So low pupil numbers can make it “challenging” for schools to operate within a budget.

The statutory closure notice had pointed to the impact of low and falling numbers on the schools financial viability.

With no pupils now on roll, Cllr Mills-Bishop told the meeting that the school was now “effectively closed", and the official closure date was agreed as April 14

Leader of the council Cllr Richard Roberts recalled meeting with the head of governors at the school in 2021.

He told the meeting: “He implored us to keep the school open, with the implication that they would raise numbers, that were declining at the time.

“We went with that proposal and sadly since then the numbers have declined and have now declined to zero.

“When parents start to make decisions about where their children go to school it can be self-reinforcing – and it seems to have been in this case.

“The consultation is emphatic and as you say worrying about what date we are going to close on becomes rather immaterial, as there are no pupils in the school.”