Governors of Dales primaries to consider defederation request

West Burton Primary School.

Governors of three Dales primary schools working together as a federation say they will consider whether it is feasible for one of the schools to leave the arrangement.

The governing board of  Bainbridge, Askrigg and West Burton (BAWB) Federation confirmed this week that they had chosen to implement a new structure, known as Option 3A, from September.

The decision follows a period of consultation with parents and other stake-holders about the future of the three schools.

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

Askrigg and West Burton schools will then take KS2 pupils.

However, since the consultation began parents of children at West Burton School have voiced concern about the proposed structure, including the transporting of their younger children to Bainbridge.

At a public meeting last month fears were voiced that West Burton School could close in the near future because parents would choose to send their children elsewhere, rather than have them taught at different schools during their time in primary education.

At the meeting a proposal to leave the federation was discussed.

BAWB governors confirmed in a letter to parents this week that a request had been received from Upper Dales county councillor John Blackie and others for county council officers and governors to explore the feasibility of West Burton School leaving the federation.

The board said in the letter: “The defederation of West Burton runs against all the previous advice the governing board have received, and before a decision about defederation can be made the implications of defederation on all three schools needs to be explored.

“A group of governors will immediately begin to carefully assess the long term educational and financial impacts of defederation on all three schools.

“They will work with the local authority and others to explore the implications of defederation on mid-dale education and aim to complete this work for presentation at the governing board meeting on 19th June.”


The letter added that information about the research would be passed to stakeholders for consideration before a decision is made at the governing board on July 11.

“The implementation date of Option 3A may therefore be reviewed in light of the decisions that are reached,” the letter stated.

In his response to the consultation over Option 3A, Cllr Blackie said the option was unlikely to secure the long term future of West Burton School.

He said the bus journey to Bainbridge was “unlikely to be an attractive proposition” for the parents of children in the West Burton catchment area due to enrol as new reception pupils entering into primary education.

“In short these new pupils, essential to keep the numbers on roll at West Burton Primary School at current levels, if not to improve them, will look to enrolling at Leyburn Primary School instead,” he said, adding: “Once pupils start at Bainbridge Primary School for Early Years and KS1 education, it is most likely they will want to stay with the friends they have made there, when there is the transfer to Askrigg Primary School for KS2.

“This would further reduce the prospective numbers on roll at West Burton Primary School and result in no real upward movement of pupils into the KS2 class there.”

Cllr Blackie added in a statement today: “The overwhelming response of parents at West Burton School was that the way forward recommended by the Governors seriously threatened the future of their school. I as their county councillor was of the same opinion.

“This recommendation has now been adopted, so understandably they wish it to leave the federation by standing alone again, because they consider it is the only way their beloved West Burton School will remain open.”

“The Governors recognise their aspirations and are wisely actively pursuing the possibility of de-federation.

“As a long term advocate for all three schools in the BAWB Federation to each remain open to serve the local communities they have so very well over many years, I support the governors’ positive approach to de-federation and hope the evidence gathered will allow them to give the go-ahead for what the West Burton parents so passionately desire.”

Parents of Wet Burton School children have previously expressed concern that their school is not represented on the governing board.

Last month’s public meeting heard that when West Burton School joined BAWB it had £70,000 in the bank.

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

A new funding formula announced 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.