Village school shuts for good because it has no children to teach

West Raynham School has gained an outstanding Ofsted report.
PHOTO: IAN BURT
COPY:Kathryn Cross

West Raynham Church of England Primary Academy is set to close - Credit: IAN BURT

A village school is shutting for good - because it no longer has any children to teach there. 

West Raynham Church of England Primary Academy is set to officially close on Tuesday, February 22, although the school is already sitting empty. 

The Diocese of Norwich Education and Academies Trust (DNEAT), which runs the school, said making efforts to shut permanently had been a "difficult decision". 

West Raynham School has gained an outstanding Ofsted report.
PHOTO: IAN BURT
COPY:Kathryn Cross

West Raynham Church of England Primary Academy, established in 1854, is set to close - Credit: IAN BURT

But it added that, in West Raynham, near Fakenham, the number of children on the school roll had declined to zero at the time the diocese began seeking closure.

Bosses pointed to a changing demographic in the local area, resulting in there being too few children to fill the existing places in primary education.  

Having been established in 1854 - a date proudly displayed above the school's porch - it marks a sad end of an era for the village.

Oliver Burwood, chief executive of the DNEAT, said: "The trust took the difficult decision to seek the closure of West Raynham Primary School.

Oliver Burwood has been appointed as the new chief executive of the Diocese of Norwich Education and

Oliver Burwood, chief executive of the Diocese of Norwich Education and Academies Trust - Credit: DNEAT

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"The reasons for closure relate to a falling roll over time, caused by the demographics of the local area where the population is declining and there are too many school places for too few children.

"West Raynham's roll had actually reduced to zero at the time we sought closure."

Mr Burwood added that a "'listening period" and consultation had been carried out prior to a final decision being made on the closure.

A decision was subsequently reached that the school should be closed. 

He said: "The minister responsible agreed with the trust's reasoning for closure and, as per the Department for Education guidance, DNEAT conducted a listening period relating to closure, alongside a consultation for changing catchment area.

"All relevant stakeholders have been asked for their views and the listening period and consultation have now closed.

"The DfE has confirmed the school will officially close on Tuesday, February 22.”

The Diocese of Norwich Education and Academies Trust looks after almost 40 schools, the majority of which are primary academies, in Norfolk and the Waveney Valley in Suffolk.