A NURSERY school headteacher and her partner have died in a car crash.

Claire Lucas, from Bradley Nursery School in Nelson, and her partner Mark died in a crash on the A59 at Broughton, near Skipton, at 9.40pm on Friday.

Her ‘outstanding’ Ofsted-rated nursery, in Bradley Road East, was closed today and staff released a statement to parents.

It said: “As many of you may know, our headteacher Miss Lucas has passed away following a car accident. Thank you for your kindness and support during this difficult time.”

The couple, from Barnoldswick, were travelling in a Nissan Juke when it collided with a silver Mercedes Vito van. They were pronounced dead at the scene.

A woman, who was in the Mercedes van, was taken to hospital with serious injuries. The van driver was arrested and released under investigation.

Sue Nike, chair of governors at Bradley Nursery School, said: “It is with the deepest sadness that we can confirm that our headteacher, Claire Lucas, and her partner, Mark, both lost their lives in a road accident on Friday.

“Claire will be greatly missed. She was such a well-loved and inspirational headteacher.

“We closed the school today as a mark of respect for Claire, and also to help us all to try to come to terms with this.

“School will reopen tomorrow.

“Our overriding priority is to provide support to pupils and colleagues, and we are working with Lancashire County Council to make sure that additional care and help is in place.

“All our thoughts and prayers are with her family and friends at this very sad time.”

Tributes have poured in for Claire, including on social media.

Jade Hargreaves said: “Wow what a shock to the system. This lady has done so much for me and my family. She was a beautiful lady both inside and out. The nursery won’t be the same.”

Kay Maloney said: “Heart-breaking, RIP Claire. Sending lots of love and strength to your family at this extremely difficult time.”

Saniya Raja said: “So sad. She was such a lovely woman, going to be truly missed.”

Leader of Pendle Council, Cllr Mohammed Iqbal, who also represents the school’s ward, said: “It is a very sad loss for the community. I met Claire a few times.

“I really feel for her family and everyone at the nursery as well. This is devastating for everyone. She had been at the nursery for a really long time and was well-respected by a lot of people.”

A special meeting of the Lancashire County Council education scrutiny committee at County Hall.

The meeting began with all members standing to observe a minute’s silence in memory of the headteacher.

North Yorkshire Police are appealing for witnesses who may have seen either of the vehicles prior to the collision, or were on the A59 at the time and may have dashcam footage, to get in touch.