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Housing call to fight school closures

The National Housing Federation has called for more affordable rural housing to slow the demise of village schools.

The lack of housing for families is contributing to one rural primary school closing every month, the National Housing Federation has warned. Villages have become too expensive for young families, who are having to move to towns where housing is cheaper.

Up to 200 more rural primary schools could close by 2014 if the situation continues, according to the National Housing Federation.

Figures obtained under the Freedom of Information Act by the National Housing Federation show that 13 village primaries closed in 2006, 14 in 2007 and 13 in 2008. Overall, there were 62 closures between 2004 and 2008.

The National Housing Federation said closures are being ordered by cash-strapped councils in a bid to save money as pupils in rural areas dwindle. Below average incomes in rural areas and above average house prices have caused the problem.

Federation director Ruth Davison said: “Local authorities need to assess just how many affordable homes are needed in each rural ward, and draw up action plans to get those homes delivered, before more small village schools are closed and traditional village life dies on its feet.”