PLANS for a long-awaited village school have been put on hold as the number of primary pupils in the county drops dramatically.

Staunton-on-Wye school is all set to move as land nearby has been bought and the building plans are ready.

However, falling pupil numbers elsewhere has forced Herefordshire Council to review school provision across the county, rather than specific areas it previously concentrated on.

The review will set out where Staunton-on-Wye fits in any possible reorganisation.

That might sound gloomy, but Sharon Menghini, the council's director of children's services, recently stated that "appropriate proposals" would be taken on Staunton's scenario and two other schools facing building work.

The council's cabinet was told of the review decision when it met last Thursday and Staunton chair of governors Steve Grist was encouraged by the news.

"We've definitely come away with more positives than negatives," said Mr Grist speaking after last week's meeting.

"There have been talks about a new school since 1990 but we were concerned because the review has every school wondering about the future.

"We would want a rapid conclusion to the consultation but we think the meeting was a big step towards that and we were very impressed with what the council had to say."

The Hereford Times has reported the uncertain future facing many rural schools as they compete for a falling number of primary pupils across the county.

Fewer pupils means less funding from government and Herefordshire Council started a full review of school numbers in March last year.

The Kington catchment came first, then the review was rolled out over the rest of the county.

But cabinet was told that this timetable had fallen behind schedule and measures were being taken to speed things up.

Members heard that one pioneering solution had already been pitched - the merger of Wigmore Primary and High schools to create a new "federated school".

Both schools already share resources, and their respective governors have agreed in principle to the move, which could see the new school up and running by September.

Mrs Menghini said the scheme had a lot to commend it.

"The scenario at Wigmore is quite unique and we think it warrants a confident decision," said Mrs Menghini.

"Governors from both schools want to form a federation and they are both on the same site. It could be a model for the future."