Dales schools announce new class structure

Askrigg Primary School

A new structure for three Dales schools that will operate from September has been announced.

The acting headteachers of Bainbridge, Askrigg and West Burton primary schools have written to parents to say the most appropriate model to deliver the best education for pupils has been agreed.

The structure will see all three schools remain open with all foundation and KS1 children taught at Bainbridge.

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Askrigg and West Burton schools will then take KS2 pupils.

The structure is similar to how the schools currently operate.

This table shows how the structure, known as 3A, would operate with the anticipated pupil numbers in September:

This structure would work on Mondays to Thursdays with a different system operating on Fridays.

A different option, option 7, had previously been recommended by the governors but it was felt this did not have enough community support.

A number of parents felt it would mean too much travelling for pupils.

In a letter to parents, acting co-headteacher Maxine Price said: “As you are very aware a tremendous amount of time and labour has been invested in finding the most appropriate model to deliver the best possible education for our children.

“This is pitched against a need for educational and financial sustainability.

“Myself and Mrs Harrison (acting co-headteacher) have worked closely with the governing board, the local authority and we have taken into account your views via the ‘drop-ins’ and written feedback.

“Ultimately we have been looking for an option that delivers the best possible education for our pupils now and in the future.”

The governors of the BAWB Federation, which runs the schools, added in the letter that following detailed research by the acting headteachers, they believed the new structure was “an extremely workable model, which removes much of the need for additional inter-school transport, whilst maintaining the best possible education for all pupils within the available funding”.

They said: “This model, which includes other small cost savings, is backed by the Local Authority in terms of sustainability, provided we can maintain the forecast number of pupils.”

They added: “We know from the responses received that a proportion of community members have a preference for a one school model but evidence states that this is not financially viable due to the implications of the lump-sum arrangements.

“Equally as you know, all our local councillors, together with NYCC, are keen to retain our three schools. Model 3A is our final attempt to achieve that objective under the Government’s current funding formula.”

It had been feared at least one of the schools could have to close because of falling pupil numbers and financial difficulties faced by the BAWB Federation.

However, a new funding formula announced recently by the Government means education chiefs believe it will be possible to keep all three schools open for now, with three small, rural schools set to benefit significantly from the new arrangement.