Primary Education: Closures:Written question - HL16693

Asked on: 26 June 2019
Department for Education
Primary Education: Closures
To ask Her Majesty's Government what criteria are used when reaching a decision on the closure of a primary school; and what role is played by (1) the Department for Education, and (2) the Secretary of State for Education specifically, in making such a decision.
Answered by: Lord Agnew of Oulton
Answered on: 05 July 2019

The decision to close a local authority maintained primary school is a local decision. Neither the Department for Education nor my right hon. Friend, the Secretary of State for Education, play a role in the process or decision making. Where the school is an academy, the final decision is made by the Secretary of State for Education.

When making a decision on a proposal to close a school, the decision maker (be it the local authority or the Secretary of State) will consider whether there is appropriate surplus capacity in the area to accommodate displaced pupils and any future projected increase in pupil numbers. They will also consider the impact of those likely to be affected by the closure, the balance of denominational provision, the impact on travel times for displaced pupils and any specialist provision (including sixth form provision or provision for pupils with special educational needs or disabilities).

Where the school is an academy, the Secretary of State will also consider the viability of the school under the current academy trust, including the effectiveness of any attempts to raise education and financial performance. They will also consider the availability of other academy trusts to take on the school and their capacity to drive the required improvements and the cost effectiveness of closure.

There is a presumption against the closure of rural primary schools. Where a school is designated as a rural school, the decision maker will also consider any alternatives to closure (e.g. amalgamation, federation, academy conversion or academy transfer). They will also consider the likely impact of the closure on the local community, the availability of, and likely cost of transport to alternative schools and any increase in the use of motor vehicles due to the closure and the likely impact of any increase.

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