Village school closure given the go ahead

Shelton Lower School
Shelton Lower School

Campaigners are considering an appeal over the closure of Shelton Lower School.

The school is due to shut on August 31 next year, after Central Bedfordshire Council’s executive unanimously approved the decision on Tuesday.

Any appeal has to be made by September 5 to the schools’ adjudicator.

A decision whether to take that step is expected to be reached over the weekend, according to local Conservative councillor Robert Morris.

A judicial review of the verdict was ‘very unlikely because of the cost’, said Mr Morris, who is a governor of the school.

“We don’t have a lawyer at the moment. So we will consider whether it’s wise in view of the costings. It’s a small school in the first place. There are not lots of wealthy parents,” he said.

The school has capacity for 75 pupils, but the number on the roll this October is forecast to be as low as 29 per cent of its capacity.

It went into deficit earlier this year and the financial situation is only likely to get worse, the meeting heard.

Councillor Steve Dixon, the executive member for families, education and children, admitted the decision to close the school has not been an easy one but said it came down to ‘crude raw numbers’.

He said: “I don’t think the school is economically viable.”

But councillor Morris told the meeting he was unhappy at how the decision had been reached.

He said: “I find it disappointing how flawed the process has been from the start to today. With a large number of rural schools in Central Beds that are financially at risk, we need to make sure the processes are robust and transparent.

“Neither are words which can be attributed positively to the process in this situation.”