THE kitchen at a village primary school has been forced to close due to lack of funds.

St Stephen’s Primary School, in Tockholes, will lose the facility at the end of this school year with one long-standing member of staff losing her job.

Headteacher Barbara Cocken said the decision was not taken lightly, but it was a choice between losing the kitchen or a teaching post.

She said: “We just can’t afford it. It has been costing me £7,500 and we just haven’t got it. The budget couldn’t take it so it was a choice between losing a teacher or closing the kitchen, which was a no-brainer really.

“Half the pupils aren’t even using the school dinners service here.

“We tried everything to keep it but we were left with no choice.

“We are all gutted. Mrs Viki Houghton has been a brilliant cook for nearly 22 years nearly. The whole thing is really really sad, but I guess it is a sign of the times.”

According to the most recent Ofsted school report, carried out last year, the school has 49 pupils on its books.

Tockholes councillor Colin Rigby said: “It is sad to see anybody lose their job after such a long length of service.

“But I would think the school has not taken this decision lightly.

“It is a small village with a small number of pupils, which I am sure doesn’t help financially.”

n Also leaving the school at the end of term this week are music teacher Alexis Taylor and headteacher Barbara Cocken. Mrs Cocken is to retire, as we reported in the Lancashire Telegraph in January, to be replaced in September by Dominic James.