CAMPAIGNERS fighting to keep open a village primary school said their efforts have been given a major boost after a headteacher was appointed.

Oxfordshire County Council proposed closing the 160-year-old Culham Primary School because it had been without a head for more than two years amid falling pupil numbers.

But last month governors and villagers were given fresh hope when the council gave them extra time to find a head, draw up a budget and demonstrate demand for at least 40 places.

Campaigners said work towards showing that demand is also proving positive because of discussions with The European School at Culham.

Chairman of Save Culham School Action Group, Kitson Thomas said: “We have opened a very firm line of dialogue between us to see if we cannot work together to provide a short-term solution for both of us.

“We are hoping to form some sort of loose federation to give us some immediate numbers for September, and to help them with their cohort of pupils’ siblings with nowhere to go.”

The European School itself faces an uncertain future after plans to turn it into the UK’s first multi-lingual academy collapsed.

The EU-funded school, set up in the 1970s to provide an education for the children of European staff working at the nearby nuclear fusion Jet project, faces a phased closure over the next six years.

The lower years in the four-to-18 school will close first.

Mr Thomas said: “The European School is winding down from the bottom up, so it has nowhere to take children between the ages of four and six.”

He declined to release further details of the headteacher appointment until the council had decided whether to grant a reprieve.

The European School may now try to become a state-funded ‘free school’, or move into the independent sector.

At stake is its unique education, with pupils sitting the European Baccalaureate and lessons taught in five different languages.

Maurizio Fantato, vice-chairman of The English Trust for European Education, backed the latest developments and said: “There are many needs in the geographical context of Culham.

“We are all scratching our head to see how one school can help the other.”