A RURAL primary school near Andover is at risk of closing as soon as next year as a consultation is launched by the council to help determine its future.

Hatherden Church of England Primary School is located in Hatherden, to the north of Andover, and latest government data indicates that it provides education to fewer than 40 pupils aged four to 11, despite having capacity for more than double that amount.

As well as this, the council says the school is in a “concerning position” due to the Department for Education being unable to appoint an academy sponsor for the school, and Ofsted rating it “inadequate” - although “effective actions towards removing weaknesses” were noted by inspectors at subsequent monitoring sessions.

As a result, the council must make a decision on the future of the school, and has launched a petition allowing stakeholders to have their say.

The form, seen by the Advertiser, asks respondents whether they would prefer the school to remain open, as per the status quo, seek an academy or free school sponsor, or close.

It also asks for any additional comments in support of the choice made.

Matthew Main, chair of governors at Hatherden Primary School, said: “Hampshire County Council is currently consulting on the future of the school in view of the school’s low pupil numbers, Ofsted’s judgement of ‘inadequate’ and the Department for Education being unable to appoint an academy sponsor for the school.

“The County Council is seeking views on options for the school’s future including an option for the school to close at the end of current academic year (after the summer term 2022).

“Parents, staff and other stakeholders have until December 10 to respond and to make alternative suggestions.”

Cllr Roz Chadd, Hampshire County Council’s executive member for children’s services, added: “This school is in a concerning position with very low pupil numbers. On November 10, I agreed that a consultation should be undertaken to seek views on the options for the school’s future.

“At the heart of any decision is making sure that we do what is best for the children. They deserve to enjoy a high quality standard of education and to this end we must consider all options appropriately.

“I would encourage staff, parents and the wider school community to participate in the consultation process.

“All responses will be carefully considered.

“People can find the consultation on our website www.hants.gov.uk/aboutthecouncil/haveyoursay.”