London must hear urgent shouts in support of our rural schools, says Bishop Jonathan

National decision makers must create structured solutions to rural education problems and hear the needs of our countryside schools, says Bishop Jonathan Gibbs in an article for the Yorkshire Post.

“We need to be shouting loud and proud about our rural communities, and making sure that people in London are hearing that in the midst of all the noise," Bishop Jonathan said.

The regional newspaper claims urgent meetings are to be held due to warnings over the clash of financial pressures versus the preservation of countryside communities.

Since last year, nine small schools have been threatened with closure in North Yorkshire as pupils numbers plummet and the Church of England has called for a rural education strategy to address challenges nationwide.

Bishop Jonathan, Chairman of the Anglican Diocese of Leeds Board of Education, said there must also be a co-ordinated Yorkshire vision to protect rural communities, plus pressure on Westminster to draw up a blueprint for the future.

“We need our politicians, both locally and nationally, to be pressing central Government for a more co-ordinated approach.

“These schools are central pillars of rural communities - this issue cannot be seen in isolation, but as part of a much bigger discussion about their future.

“Our rural communities need joined-up thinking in order to be able to thrive, not just survive.

"We need a clear strategy,” he said.

 A plan is needed, Bishop Jonathan adds, rather than “crisis talks” over individual schools when funding becomes untenable.

“This is a high priority. If a school does have to close, that has a huge impact on the resilience of rural communities,” he said.

Stuart Carlton, director of the children and young people’s service, welcoming the approach. “We have lobbied national Government strongly for better funding for the county’s schools as school reserves are reducing and this reflects the reality of pressure on public sector funding.

"We have made our views very clear that if small schools are to survive, then communities must remain sustainable and planning authorities must take this into account.” 

To read the Yorkshire Post article in full click on

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