A SMALL rural village school near Andover will officially close its doors in August after the county council’s cabinet member for children’s services approved the recommendation that it shut.

At a decision meeting this afternoon (June 8), Cllr Roz Chadd announced that Hatherden Church of England Primary School will officially close on August 31 2022.

It comes after the school - which has just 25 pupils - was rated ‘inadequate’ by Ofsted in 2019, leading to it being subjected to an academy order. No academy group came forward to take it over.

Speaking at the meeting, Cllr Chadd said: “Staff have done an amazing job. It’s not just teaching, there are subject leads and if there is only a handful of you, it’s a lot. I am in awe of what these teachers and the rest of the staff have done for these children up until now.”

SEE ALSO: Parent reacts to looming closure of Hatherden Primary School

She continued: “Given the size of the staff team, it’s difficult for me to see how that can be sustainable going forward. I would like to thank the eight respondents to the public notice, and I would really like to thank all the children who sent the wonderful written letters to me. I sat and read every single one and the passion you all showed for your school was amazing and really shone through.

“I am really saddened to say, though, that there is nothing new that has not been considered before and, on that basis, I am going to agree with the recommendation that we do close the school with effect from the 31st of August.

“I am certainly not happy to approve that recommendation, but I will approve it and I will look forward to hearing how those 25 children excel in their new schools, wherever their parents choose to send them. The potential within a bigger school could be quite something for those young people.”

SEE ALSO: Andover councillor 'lobbying' county council to retain Hatherden School

Cllr Kirsty North, Conservative councillor for Andover North, raised concerns on behalf of the residents in her area about the future of the historic school building, which was was endowed as a school by James Sambourn who was born in Andover in 1725.

She said: "It’s a deeply disappointing time for villagers and all those associated with the school.

"I do recognise the steps taken by the county council but it’s regretful that the situation is untenable.

"I know there are concerns going forward for the site and plea that it is able to be used for alternative education or community provision. It’s a much-loved asset."

Responding, Cllr Chadd said: “You have my word that I will listen carefully to the views of the local community, that we will work together for the right future for that building. It’s not in our ownership, but I will certainly work with you to make sure that you community are heard to make sure it has a strong purpose going forward.”

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