A TROUBLED school could close for good after it was revealed education chiefs want to hold a consultation into its future.

Hameldon Community College in Burnley has suffered with declining student numbers for many years with only 35 parents putting it as their first choice for this September.

Rumours of its impending closure have circulated for years but its future will now be determined after Lancashire County Council admitted it faced 'significant challenges'.

Over the years the Coal Clough Lane school was in special measures after Ofsted chiefs identified 'serious weaknesses'.

At its last inspection in 2015 it was rated 'requires improvement' with inspectors citing poor teaching and poor progress made by pupils.

The school, which opened in 2006 as part of the Building Schools for the Future project, was formed from a merger of Habergham High School and Ivy Bank.

The £22million site was built for 750 pupils but now has fewer than 300.

School bosses stressed at this stage the proposal was to hold a consultation but community leaders said it could mark the end of the school.

Cllr Susie Charles, cabinet member for children, young people and schools, said: "Despite considerable efforts over many years to support Hameldon College, it has faced significant challenges.

"The number of pupils has reduced year on year, and there are now fewer than 300 pupils in a school built for 750.

"The school has also faced challenges in raising attainment, falling significantly below the required national minimum standards.

"Schools with falling rolls have reducing budgets, which cause staffing problems, reduced subject options and ultimately lower pupil attainment.

"These circumstances mean it is very difficult for Hameldon to provide pupils with the education they deserve, so we have to look closely at all of our options."

The school was taken over by headteacher Peter Cunningham, who previously ran Moor Park High School in Preston and Brendan Conboy, principal at Thomas Whitham Sixth Form, in January in a bid to bring stability after Gill Broom left.

Mr Conboy left the school in April.

Alex Bird, chairman of Hamledon Community College governors, said: "It is important to understand that at this stage the proposal is to hold a consultation.

"If the proposal becomes a reality we hope that people will share their views with us on how we can provide the best education possible for young people in this area."

Cllr Mark Townsend, leader of Burnley Council, said Hameldon has been 'really underperforming' as a school and closure could be a real option.

He said: "I recognise the reasons why this consultation has become necessary.

"The absolute top priority now has got to be the education and prospects of the young people who are currently students at Hameldon, and of those youngsters who had been planning to go there when they finish primary school."

Julie Cooper, MP for Burnley, said she was 'extremely concerned' to hear that questions were being raised about its future.

"The fact is of course that the Government funds schools on a per pupil basis so when numbers fall, a tipping point is soon reached," she said.

"The priority now must be in ensuring that the education and wellbeing of both the children attending Hameldon, and those in year six who are planning to attend is not disrupted or compromised.

"This will be a very troubling time I’m sure for families and staff affected."

Former Burnley MP, Cllr Gordon Birtwistle, said the school has had its troubles.

He said: "It is a problem we have been talking about for years.

"It was built in the wrong place and Lancashire County Council was warned about that many times.

"I honestly can't see any other end for it for it other than closure.

"I understand they made lots of staff redundant and it was the first choice of very few parents for this forthcoming year.

"Parents have said they are not going there and they would rather go to Burnley High School so it does not look good."

John Girdley, Lancashire representative for the NASUWT, said: "The staff need some truth and clarity on what is happening.

"It's future has been uncertain for some time and nobody thought it was going to stay open five years ago."

If the consultation is approved by the council's cabinet on August 10, it will start on September 11 and run until October 20.