Cumbria is not the only local council forced to take drastic action to stop money being wasted on half-empty schools. Every year since 2000, 100 primary schools in England have closed because of falling rolls.
Latest government figures show there were 17,762 primaries in 2004, compared with 17,861 a year earlier. In 2002, there were 17,985, and 18,069 in 2001.
According to the Department for Education and Skills there were 500,000 empty primary places in England last year and pupil numbers are expected to drop by a further 4 per cent by 2007.
Hundreds of communities are battling to save primaries, many of which have fewer than 100 pupils, from closure.
Federations of schools are an increasingly popular solution. Local councils, including Bath and North Somerset, East Riding, East Sussex, Surrey, and Havering and Sutton in London, were considering such a move, according to a TES survey.
In Wales, 43 primaries have closed since 2001 and a further 200 could be shut in the next five years.