Look at it this way - May 18, 2012

Have your say

SAVE our schools.

It’s hard to put a price on the value of a rural school.

It’s also easy to get sentimental about it. Think Cider with Rosie – that sort of thing.

But there’s nothing sadder than a boarded-up school – or a one converted to luxury flats or a rich man’s pied a terre – when driving or walking through a village.

Like a closed-down pub or shut post office or a neglected community notice board or a village hall frequented only by far older community members, it’s a sign of the times.

Such closures may be forced by falling numbers but are part of the problem, indeed perpetuate it. Once anything is gone it’s generally gone. Just look at some of our lovely old community libraries which still languish undeveloped – ghosts of former vibrant selves and closed by a previous administration which hailed closures as the start of a new chapter. The end, more like.

If you really want to attract new life to a village, and encourage younger people to see a future there, you need the bedrocks of community life, school, shops, public transport, village hall, post office, sports pitch, pub and church.

So let’s hear it for one group of parents prepared to challenge County Hall and lobby to save their school.

In Out Rawcliffe the first stage of consultation on the possible closure of the local CE primary school has started. But not without a spirited protest by parents standing shoulder to shoulder with a teaching assistant, parent governor – and the kids themselves.

Sandra O’Sullivan summed up what the school meant – not just a place to learn, but a part of the history of the village. It was her story, too. Sandra went to the same school her dad did – now her seven-year-old daughter Lily is there.

It’s not just a school, it’s a safety blanket, through which the thread of social history runs, seamless.

The school has survived earlier threats. Hambleton councillor Lynn Bowen points out it was under threat when her own children were there. But times are far harder today. We haven’t had a recession this hard, this deep, since 1975, and it wasn’t as global then.

The bean counters want to see more kids behind school desks.

But the solution could be in our own hands. Parent governor Christine Kelsall – part of a team which has looked at links with other schools or even free school status – has chosen to speak out in the hope locals themselves appreciate the seriousness of the situation.. and the fact the school needs more pupils.

Don’t pack your kids off elsewhere, support your local school – it’s a community lifeline.