Council chiefs look set to press ahead with controversial plans to close five Shropshire primary schools, it was announced today.
Councillors will be asked next week to back the closure of Barrow, Hopton Wafers and Maesbury primary schools. They will also be asked to support the closure of Shawbury Primary School to create a single school for the village with St Mary's Primary School.
Cabinet will be asked not to close Stiperstones Primary School, near Shrewsbury, but will instead allow it to explore plans to federate with Chirbury Primary School, which would see the two share facilities.
And next Wednesday's cabinet will also be asked to proceed with proposals to close Ifton Heath Primary School, in St Martins, and create an all-through school at the village's Rhyn Park Secondary School.
However other schools which were facing closure look set to be saved under the new proposals.
And council chiefs say a plan to federate Onny and Lydbury North primary schools should also be investigated.
Next week's meeting will also recommend that the age range of Buntingsdale Infant School, near Market Drayton, should be extended to allow the school to take children aged four to 11.
Councillor Aggie Caesar-Homden, cabinet member for education and skills, vowed the authority had listened to all the arguments against the proposed closures but said the plans were the best option for the county's children.
She said: "We, as a cabinet, have very difficult decisions ahead of us.
"However, we have not arrived at this stage without careful consideration of all the issues and options – consultation has taken place on an extensive scale.
"We have worked alongside schools and their communities for more than a year to look at the challenges facing our schools and ways to address them," she added.
If cabinet backs the closure plans, the affected schools will shut in August next year.
A decision on the Wakeman School, Shrewsbury, which is also threatened with closure, is due to be made in September after a second round of consultation was launched.
By Iain St John