Last year, Education Secretary David Blunkett promised to examine every proposed closure of a small school. But ministers are desperate to get value for the extra money they are putting into education, and see surplus school places as wasted funds. Last year there were 760,000 surplus places in England alone. In Pembrokeshire, where 22 per cent of places are surplus - which compares to a Welsh average of 13 per cent - four village schools have been earmarked for closure.
Almost 500 small schools have been closed in the past five years, despite evidence that they provide high-quality education. Official figures obtained by The TES show that the number of schools with fewer than 100 pupils fell by 15 per cent from more than 3,200 in 1993 to around 2,750 in 1998.
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