A SCHOOL praised by Government inspectors is vowing to fight council proposals to close it down.

Dukesgate Primary School, in Earlsdon Crescent, Little Hulton, has been earmarked for closure because pupil numbers are predicted to plummet in in the area in the next five years.

But headteacher Sandra Darley said she was confident that the school, which is in the middle of building a £500,000 sports hall, would not shut.

Dukesgate, built 22 years ago, is one of the newest in Little Hulton and has been praised in its last two Ofsted reports for success with children from deprived estates. Little Hulton councillor Alice Smyth said: "I am very concerned about this and for all the schools in Little Hulton. We will have to fight our corner to protect them.

"There is a problem with surplus places which we have to address but I don't understand the criteria they have used. Closing a relatively new school like this is not the answer. It would damage the community." The council estimates that by 2007 there will be 237 surplus places at schools in Little Hulton. Closing Dukesgate would get rid of 210 places.

Another option is cutting 105 places at both Wharton and Peel Hall Primary Schools.

Sandra Darley, headteacher at Dukesgate Primary, said: "I am confident that reducing numbers at other schools will mean we're not affected in the short-term.

"We are worried about the future due to falling pupil numbers in Little Hulton but we hope that regeneration will attract more families and boost the figure.

"Our sports hall development is underway we are proud of the school, we don't think it would make sense to shut it down."

A consultation exercise starts in November and is expected to report back in January next year.