Engagement event on future of Bainbridge, Askrigg and West Burton schools postponed

West Burton primary school is one of three in the BAWB federation.

An engagement event on the future of three Dales schools has been postponed.

The leadership of the BAWB Federation of schools (Bainbridge, Askrigg and West Burton) today announced that they would be postponing their intended public engagement on the challenges faced by the schools on the advice of officers from North Yorkshire County Council.

The drop-in sessions scheduled for October 4 in the three communities will now not take place and the release of the supporting document will also be postponed.

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Education officials said the reason for the decision was that Government announcements on September 14 regarding the National Funding Formula for Schools has implications for school funding in North Yorkshire for 2018-19 and beyond and, until these are better understood, it is difficult to report with accuracy the potential impact on the BAWB schools.

However, Upper Dales county councillor John Blackie said he hoped the school governors and LEA were not “playing games” wit parents.

Commenting on the decision, the chair of governors, Derek Walpole, said: “Indications are that we will see some rise in income, but how much and when is, as yet, unclear.

“It is important that the information we present to parents and the wider community on the financial challenges we face contains the most accurate information available.

“However, along with all other North Yorkshire Schools, we do not know at this stage how much income we will receive in 2018-19 or subsequent years.

“In that context we feel it would be inappropriate to ask people to express opinion on potentially incomplete information and therefore have accepted the advice of NYCC.

“We remain committed to engaging and hearing views in the way we had set out and emphasise this is a postponement not a cancellation.’’

 

Anton Hodge, Assistant NYCC Director of Strategic Resources, said: ‘‘Since the recent announcements we have been examining the potential impacts of the National Funding Formula on North Yorkshire Schools.

“Later this term we will be taking recommendations on funding formulas to the Education Partnership, a consultative and decision-making body which includes headteacher and governor representatives from across the county. It is fully expected that the level of funding for 2018-19 will be confirmed by the end of the year.’

County Councillor Patrick Mulligan, Executive Member for Schools, said: “I fully understand the reasons for this and agree it is important that the community has the most complete and accurate information available. It is right that all concerned with leading our schools take stock of the national announcement before proceeding further.

“I am reassured this is a postponement not a cancellation and that the federation remains committed to engaging with the community at the appropriate time.’’

But Cllr Blackie questioned whether the decision to cancel was actually a response to the concerns expressed by parents and others in the community about the threat to the future of the schools.

“I hope this isn’t a thin excuse to cancel a public consultation that people were really looking forward to taking part in.

“I hope the BAWB and county council aren’t playing games with the local community. People want to express their opinion and that opinion overwhelmingly is to keep all three schools open.”

Cllr Blackie said any additional funding from central government could be added to the savings that he and parents had found after going through the schools’ budgets “line by line”, meaning that with just a small number of additional pupils all three schools could stay open.