Durham County Council is to keep three rural schools open, with a shared headteacher, following discussions with educators.
At a time of continuing financial pressures and fewer children in some areas the authority needs to consider how best to ensure that small schools are both economically viable and in a position to provide a good quality of education for all pupils.
Consideration had been given to the potential for merging Wearhead and St John’s Chapel Primary Schools and closing Forest-in-Teesdale and Rookhope Primary Schools.
But following helpful discussions with schools an alternative solution has been found.
Cllr Ossie Johnson, the council’s cabinet member for children and young people’s services, said: “After extensive discussions with these communities we have decided that the best way forward is to bring Forest-in -Teesdale, Rookhope and St John’s Chapel Primary Schools together, with a shared headteacher.
“That will maintain what we have, with around 50 children across the three sites, and means we will not have to consult on the closure of any schools in this area at this time.”
The council will support the governors of all three schools so that the change of management structure can be in place by the start of the new academic year in September 2016.
Wearhead Primary School, which was to have been included in the proposed consultation, is unaffected by this announcement and will continue as it currently is.