The Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority (YDNPA) has made an appeal to education chiefs to recognise the importance of primary schools to the life of rural communities.

Letters making the case for keeping open all the remaining primary schools in the national park are also to be sent to the five MPs in the park.

YDNPA members unanimously approved a motion to call upon local authorities, multi-academy trusts, and schools' leadership and management to 'recognise the importance of primary schools as a key contributor to the sustainability and future of rural communities and in particular the retention and attraction of young families within them'.

The motion was proposed by one of the YDNPA’s longest-serving members, the Independent North Yorkshire County Councillor, John Blackie. He told the meeting that up to 10 primary schools in the national park were “under threat” because of falling pupil numbers.

He said: “As a National Park Authority, we want to send a clarion call to those that have influence over the running and funding of primary schools – to remind them of the importance of protecting these vital community assets. The efforts we are making to retain and attract young families will be seriously undermined if schools are allowed to close because of short term financial issues.

“Recent history shows us that if a primary school closes, the local community is set on the road to becoming a retirement village.”

Ian McPherson, who is a governor of Dent primary school, said he was keen to back the motion.

“We cannot underestimate the value of the primary school to the community," he said. "Dent school is in a good position at the moment, with more than 30 pupils, but we cannot be complacent.”