§ 31. Mr. Peter Bradley
To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment how many rural schools were closed(a) between 1979 and 1997 and (b) since May 1997; and if he will make a statement on the future of rural schools. 
§ Jacqui Smith
We estimate that around 450 rural primary schools closed between 1983 and 1998. Since the increased protection for rural schools that we announced in February 1998, only six such schools have been approved for closure. We are determined to preserve access to local schools for rural communities, and our guidance to local education authorities and school organisation committees makes clear that the presumption should continue to be against the closure of rural schools.