Village School Closure - does it spell the end for a community?

Posted by heather on Wed 30 Jan 08 at 6:26pm

Over twenty small village schools are under threat of closure in rural Shropshire. It's a pattern being repeated in many parts of Britain.

Parents, teachers and children campaigning for their schools aren't alone. Shop keepers, post masters, publicans and vicars also lose out when a village school closes. Mums, dads and grandparents pop into the shop when they've taken the kids to school and after they've picked them up. It's part of their daily life to use the local Post Office. The pub benefits after parents' evenings, sports days and other school based events as well as becoming a meeting place for parents etc. who first met at the school gate. The vicar's congregation swells with school activities at Christmas and Easter. Church schools involve their vicars all year round.

The local shop, where villagers of all ages come across each other and keep in touch with what's happening in their area, is part of the cement holding a community together. If the school goes, the shop goes. The same for the pub. In many cases both buildings end up as residential accomodation and their use is changed for ever.

Will villages become collections of houses where people rarely come across their neighbors, groceries are delivered to the door by supermarket, children taken off to a distant schools by bus? If the only available work is away from the village it will be empty except for evenings and weekends and even then villagers will have to travel to shop and find a pub. The older generation becomes isolated, the spirit of the community fades.

Will the slow death of the rural community be the present day version of the eighteenth and nineteenth century Industrial Revolution?


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