“Extreme financial pressures” prompts restructure at two Wensleydale primary schools

Spennithorne Church of England Primary School. Photo: Google.

Difficulties recruiting teachers and “extreme financial pressures” have prompted a restructure at two Dales primary schools.

Instead of having two classes at each school, Middleham and Spennithorne primaries, which are already working together in a federation, will have three between them from September.

In a letter to parents, school leaders explained that two teachers, Mrs Brown, who teaches key stage one at Middleham, and Mrs Shepherd, who teaches the key stage two class at Spennithorne, were leaving at the end of the term.

The letter, signed by chair governors Lesley Sweeting, said it was “extremely difficult” to recruit staff to work across three or four year group classes, adding: “At this time both our schools are experiencing increasingly extreme financial pressures whilst our pupil numbers remain small.

“Despite continuous tight management of the limited funds we receive, Spennithorne is already in deficit and Middleham is due to follow within the next financial year.

“After carefully considering the options before us, and with our continuing aim being to seek to provide the best possible learning outcomes for all of the children in our schools it has been decided to make the following changes for September 2019.”

The changes, which have been announced to parents this week, will see a reception/year one class and a year five and six class run at Middleham, while a years two, three and four class will be based at Spennithorne.

A new teacher will be recruited to take the reception/year one class.

School leaders say the new structure will mean around 24 pupils and a smaller age range in each class.

The school will be responsible for transporting the pupils to the schools.

Pupils will remain a member of the school in which they enrolled and will keep the same uniform.

Richmondshire Today has spoken to several parents who have expressed reservations about the changes, including the lack of any consultation.

One parent said that their children would be attending different schools and that one of the children would be attending a school they had specifically not chosen.

Commenting on the changes, Judith Kirk, North Yorkshire County Council’s assistant director for education and skills, said: “As the local authority, we are aware of the financial and recruitment challenges faced by the federation and note their plan to adjust arrangements to ensure they provide the best education for all of their children.”

Parents and carers have been invited to attend meetings to discuss the changes on June 13.

The first will be held at 6pm at Spennithorne Primary School with the second at  7pm at Middleham.