A council with the biggest number of rural schools in the country is set to consult the public on closing its smallest school, which has no pupils.

Fountains Earth Church of England Primary in Lofthouse, near Pateley Bridge, was rated "good" by Ofsted inspectors when it was last visited in 2017 and had 22 pupils. Since then the number has dwindled to none as youngsters transferred to other local schools.

North Yorkshire Council is being asked to go out to consultation by the governors to close the school amid concerns over the lack of pupils, pressure on finances and struggles to recruit teachers.

Darlington and Stockton Times: Fountain Earth Primary School has no pupils

Last year there were 15 pupils at the school, which is part of a federation of schools with St Cuthbert’s in Pateley Bridge and Glasshouses Primary School, sharing one headteacher.

Governors asked for the consultation because all children had transferred to other schools by the start of the current academic year in September.

The council will consider the request next week and the authority's executive member for education, learning and skills, Cllr Annabel Wilkinson, will decide whether to approve if consultation should be undertaken.

She said: "A decision to consult on potentially closing a school is always an extremely hard one to have to make. No one wants to be in this position.

"North Yorkshire maintains more small, rural schools than any other local authority in the country. Sadly, the reality is that many of our schools, particularly those in rural areas, are seeing pupil numbers reduce year-on-year.

"Fountains Earth Primary is among the rural schools finding itself in a difficult position, particularly around pupil numbers and funding, and I will consider these issues carefully when deciding if a public consultation should proceed."

If the consultation to close goes ahead it will start later in November and run for five weeks with a public meeting.

If approved Fountains Earth Primary School would close on March 31, 2024.