County Durham's smallest school with just five pupils could close next year

There are five pupils on the roll at Rookhope Primary School in County Durham. Credit: Local Democracy Reporting Service

The smallest school in County Durham could close due to low pupil numbers.

There are just five pupils enrolled at Rookhope Primary School, in Weardale, with none predicted to be on the roll by 2027.

The children are currently being taught at St John's Chapel Primary School.

Rookhope Primary School was saved from closure in 2016 when parents fought a fierce campaign to save it.

Council officials say other schools in the Upper Weardale area are within a reasonable travelling distance that pupils who would be displaced from Rookhope Primary School could attend.

Other small primary schools in the upper dales include Wearhead and St John’s Chapel.

Forest of Teesdale School, which was also saved from closure in 2016, shut its doors in 2022.

A decision was recently made to widen the curriculum for pupils at the school in collaboration with the other schools.

Officers believe the proposal provides the best future option for the children, the school, and the community it serves based on educational outcomes, pupil numbers, site issues and sustainable finances.

The pupils currently attending St John’s Chapel receive free school transport throughout the year and the scheme is set to continue should the school close. 

A public consultation on the proposal is due to end on 29 October.

A final decision on the school’s future is due in February 2024.

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