Consultation launched on closure of North Walney Primary School

A consultation on the potential closure of North Walney Primary and Nursery School in Barrow-in-Furness has been launched.

Westmorland and Furness Council is concerned about the decline in the number of pupils at the school and the resulting impact on the school’s financial position.

As a result, the council is consulting on the school’s future, and the views of everybody that has an interest in the school will be considered.

Currently, the number of pupils at the school is just 27, with the school able to accommodate up to 161 children.

There has been a continuous drop in numbers across all year groups over recent years. In 2019/20 the number of pupils at the school was 84, by 2021/22 this number had fallen to 67 with a further reduction to 22 by 2022/23.

In line with national trends, the number of births in the North Walney catchment area has also reduced in recent years, as it has across Walney Island. Because fewer children are being born, the chances of significant growth in pupil numbers for North Walney School are low.

There’s also a surplus of school places across the surrounding area, with five other schools within a two-mile radius of North Walney Primary School, four of which are located on Walney Island.

The low number of pupils attending the school also means the schools funding is making it difficult to achieve a balanced budget, and this is expected to become increasingly difficult in the coming years.

School budgets are directly linked to the number of children at a school and funding allocations are based on a nationally agreed formula. This means no additional financial support can be provided to the school.

Cllr Sue Sanderson, the council’s Cabinet Member for Children’s Services, Education and Skills, said:

“The decision to close a school isn’t one the council would take lightly and it’s important we hear the views of everyone with an interest in North Walney Primary and Nursery School.

“Sadly, we’re concerned the school’s current financial position is unsustainable and it’s difficult to see how things will improve in the future if pupil numbers do not improve.

“As a former Head Teacher myself, I sympathise hugely with the staff, pupils, parents and local community surrounding North Walney School and we’ll support them throughout this process. Our decision to consult on this issue is also not a reflection on the dedicated staff at North Walney, who have done everything they can under difficult circumstances and will continue to do so until a final decision is made on the school’s future.”

In addition to completing the online questionnaire, the council will be hosting a consultation meeting on Wednesday 8 November at North Walney Primary School.

This consultation runs for six weeks from 1 November until 12 December 2023, and you can complete the questionnaire online.


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