School too far from madding crowds

Roger Bushby

They say location is everything. And that adage certainly seems to be the case for a Leicestershire primary school with some of the best results in the country, which cannot attract pupils.

Despite achieving an award for excellence and all of its pupils reaching the required standard in national curriculum tests, Newton Burgoland expects to have only 35 pupils at the start of the new academic year.

The test results put the school - named after the picturesque village in which it stands - in the top 3 per cent of schools nationwide. But each year, its roll has shrunk.

Newton Burgoland, which can accommodate 70 children, finished this year with 40 pupils, spread across three classes (two of 15 each and one of 10). It has a full-time teaching staff of three, which includes headteacher Cathleen Summerfield.

"We get brilliant results. We have 11-year-olds getting public school scholarships, and this year we've had pupils gaining 98 per cent in key stage 2 maths - but it seems no one wants to know.

"Some people don't even know there is a school in the village and some suppliers can't even find the village itself. Most schools are on estates or main roads, but we're tucked away, and no one knows we're there," she said.

The dwindling numbers have sparked fears among parents that the education authority may close the school - a fate that befell another Leicestershire primary recently in the village of Tilton-on-the-Hill.

A county council spokesperson, however, said that the council shared the view of the Department for Education and Skills, which was against the closure of small rural schools.

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Roger Bushby

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