No pupils turn up for first day at school

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The Independent Online

While most schools are bustling with children back after the summer break, one has had to close its doors after no pupils turned up on the first day of term.

Governors at Mowsley St Nicholas CE Primary School in Mowsley, near Lutterworth, Leicestershire, are now consulting on its future after watching its roll drop to nothing.

Last year 38 pupils were on the roll, but this year education bosses were unsure how many would turn up and today Leicestershire County Council confirmed it is now temporarily closed.

A spokesman said: "There are no pupils currently on roll at Mowsley School and it is temporarily closed while the governing body considers its future.

"The county council's policy is to support small rural schools and we will be offering guidance to the governing body."

The situation at Mowsley is in stark contrast to national concerns over a lack of primary school places.

Chair of Governors Kim Hall said: "At the moment it's still officially open but it's not got any pupils in so it's not actually open."

She said a dropping roll had a "snowball" effect as more parents moved their children away from the dwindling numbers.

"I think a lot of parents decided one child was moving on so they would move their other child," she said.

"Once numbers dip below a certain point, and children's friends leave, their parents think they'll move them to be with their friends.

"Once you get to a certain number it becomes a snowball if you're not careful and I think that's what has happened."

She said the school's two teachers had also left, so if pupils had turned up they would have had to be taught by temporary staff.

"We have got some staff still on the roll who, of course, as governors we are dealing with, they are still on roll until the decision is made whether the school will close or not."

Consultation with various people, including the community, diocese, county and district councils, is expected to go on through the autumn, Mrs Hall said.

"The governors have worked incredibly hard and the teaching staff have worked incredibly hard and we have had some lovely pupils," she said.

"It has been very sad, we've been very sad about it, but you have got to be pragmatic, you have got to look at how you go forward to deal with the staff you've got, the premises you have.

"When I read there's a shortage of primary school places I think 'yes', but in our part of South Leicestershire we're not short of places - nationally everybody is saying there's a shortage but I'm thinking 'well, we don't'."

She said she was not hopeful Mowsley could recover from the situation, adding: "You would have a huge mountain to climb.

"I just think for the village it's very, very sad."