A SCHOOL which currently has just one pupil in attendance will permanently close in August, Cumbria County Council's leadership has decided.

St Joseph's Catholic Primary School, Cockermouth has struggled on a number of levels in recent years.

Rapidly falling pupil numbers have meant that in January 2022, just four pupils were attending the school.

Today, there is just one child in attendance.

The lack of pupils has dealt a blow to the school's budget and the board of governors has been unable to appoint a headteacher.

Following a year-long public consultation, the county council's cabinet was asked at a meeting on Thursday to formally agree the school's closure.

Cabinet Member for Schools and Learning Sue Sanderson said: "We're asking cabinet to make a final decision on the closure which will take effect on August 31, 2022 and it is reccomended that cabinet approves the closure."

The education lead said that the council has exhausted all available solutions. 

"We looked at leadership and alternative methods of leadership, such as federating with another school or academisation, these were discussed with other headteacher's and the Lancaster Diocese but no one was found that could fulfill that role.

"There are, very importantly, sufficient places in the area to accommodate expected future demand and currently only one child remains on the roll and they are actually attending a different provision."

Councillor Sanderson said that the lack of pupils makes the school 'unsustainable,' St Joseph's was struggling to improve on a 'Requires Improvement' rating from Ofsted and "the number of children generates your school budget."

The cabinet voted in favour of closing the school, leader of the council Stewart Young said that it was not an easy decision to make.

Cllr Young said: "It's not a decision we take lightly in terms of the closure of the school but I hope all of the circumstances in the round support Sue's recommendation today."

Cllr Sanderson said that 24 responses were made to a public consultation on the potential closure in January 2021.

Six were in favour of closing the school and the governing body said that there was 'no alternative.'

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