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'England's smallest school' to close after it was left with just two pupils

Eleanor Busby

A school believed to be the smallest in England is closing after just two pupils were left on the roll.

Bleasdale Church of England Primary in the Forest of Bowland, near Preston, will shut its doors for good on Tuesday as one of the pupils is leaving to go to secondary school.

After being open for 180 years, Lancashire County Council has decided that the school is “no longer financially viable” following a public consultation earlier this year.

Over the past five years, pupil numbers have fallen from 16 to two.

Speaking to BBC News, Jonah, the departing pupil, said: “It's been great. I've liked being here for the past seven years and made a few friends.”

Associate headteacher David Fann said the decision was “very sad” and said the school was “the core of the community”.

He added that there was “shock and numbness” within the seven staff at the school, adding: “It will hit them hard. When the school goes... I worry for the community."

It comes as a report this week revealed the number of small schools in England has halved has halved in recent decades, with those in rural settings twice as likely to have to shut their doors.

The research from think tank Onward shows that nearly 150 rural primaries have closed since 2000.

Speaking earlier this year, Edwina Grant, executive director for education and children's services at Lancashire County Council, said: "Unfortunately, we have to acknowledge the reality that the school is no longer financially viable with such incredibly low pupil numbers.

“There will only be one pupil attending the school from September this year and this figure may only increase by a few pupils over the coming years so there really is no other option.

“Our paramount concern is always to provide the best education we can for all young people."