By the numbers rural schools

The National Housing Federation (NHF) is campaigning to keep village schools open, saying they are often "the lifeblood of a community".

NHF chief executive David Orr said he feared that as families and young people are priced out of the countryside, the lack of pupils for village schools may get even worse.

Its figures show that 59 rural primary schools closed between 2005 and 2010, despite a legal obligation for councils to try to keep schools in the countryside open. This "presumption against closure" was introduced in 1998 after high numbers of closures, peaking at 127 in 1983 and continuing at around 30 a year up to 1997.

It was further strengthened by the Education and Inspections Act 2006, which requires that those proposing the closure of a rural school must take into account factors such as the effect on the community and alternatives to closure.

A study from NatCen in 2009 found that although there was statistically significant higher attainment among rural pupils at key stage 3, this was due to rural pupils having a higher social position on average, lower area deprivation and previous higher attainment at key stage 2.

Higher attainment at key stage 2 was likely to be due to higher social position earlier in life.

5,210 schools on the DfE rural schools list in December 2009 92

Authorities have rural schools

1 in 5 rural schools are in just five authorities: Norfolk, North Yorkshire, Devon, Cumbria, Kent.

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