Dales communities work together to increase school pupil numbers

West Burton Primary School.

Governors of Bainbridge, Askrigg, and West Burton (BAWB) schools have joined forces with members of the community in West Burton to increase school numbers.

A working party with the aim of boosting the schools’ rolls has been formed.

The working party is made up of five members of the West Burton Representative Group (WBRG) and five BAWB Governors who have already met to plan a strategy to attract more pupils

School leaders say the working party was formed in order to “harness the collective energy and skills” of stakeholders to bring a “renewed positivity to the future of all three schools”.

The working party has further split into sub-committees to work on a number of key areas including marketing initiatives, website development, and effective communication with the wider community.

The move signals improved relations between the governing body and residents of the Bishopdale village, who were unhappy about changes to the structure of the federation, which meant children from West Burton being bussed to Bainbridge.

West Burton parents applied for the school to leave the federation, however BAWB governors rejected the plan.

Derek Walpole, chair of governors, and headteacher Charlotte Harper said in a joint statement: “We are not alone in finding ourselves in a challenging financial position which meant a reduction in the number of classes across our federation to address falling pupil numbers, particularly at West Burton.

“It is now time to work together to reverse that trend and to provide a more sustainable future for our schools.

“We are in the early stages of this work but there is a lot of expertise and enthusiasm within the working party which places us in a strong position to realise our objective.”

Members of the WBRG, Graham Bottley and Sue Ryding, said in the statement: “We welcome the opportunity to take part in this exciting and innovative venture.

“By working together we are confident we can build on the excellent educational reputation of the BAWB Federation to ensure a bright future for all three of its primary schools in Wensleydale.”