Parents submit formal complaint about school governors

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

A group of parents has submitted a formal complaint about the governors of three Dales primary schools.

The parents had wanted West Burton Primary School to be allowed to leave a federation with Bainbridge and Askrigg schools, known as BAWB.

However, the Bishopdale school was prevented from leaving the arrangement by the schools’ board of governors following a meeting last month.

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The complaint has been submitted to the governors of BAWB and Stuart Carlton, director of children and young people’s services at North Yorkshire County Council.

It is understood the parents making the complaint all have children at West Burton School and are representing other parents from the village.

The complaint states: “In your recent decision to refuse defederation for West Burton School we believe that you, as a board, did not act in the best interests of the children at that school or in the interests of the local community.

In ignoring the best interests of one school within the federation, the board of governors are in breach of their own code of conduct.”

The complaint then lists where the parents believe the governors have breached their code of conduct.

The parents says the breaches include:

  • West Burton has, since Federation, been the sole bearer of measures designed to mitigate the budget deficit. These measures have led to a considerable decline in the educational provision at the school. Thus the Governors have not acted fairly or without prejudice.
  • The Governors have failed to disclose the reasoning behind their refusal of defederation and have had minimal contact with parents and stakeholders of West Burton School.
  • The decision to refuse defederation and implement Option 3A will almost certainly lead to the closure of West Burton School. Any closure will have a significant impact on the local communities served by the school and the wider district, and is contrary to the policies of both Richmondshire District Council and the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority which is to increase the number of young families moving to the National Park. Further, it is in contravention of the policy of North Yorkshire County Council to avoid the closure of rural schools.
  • The constant attempts to bus children, threats of closure and other governance actions over
    the last two years have sullied the reputation of the BAWB Federation. Representatives of
    County, District and Parish Councils, as well as local residents, are all opposed to the recent
    decisions taken by the Governors.

The parents say the board has also acted against two of the seven principles of public life, which are the ethical standards expected of public office holders.

The complaint concludes that given what the parents say are the breaches of the code of conduct and the seriousness of the complaint the implementation of controversial proposed changes to the schools’ structure should be postponed.

The parents add: “This postponement might halt the exodus of pupils which is already happening and which threatens the viability of the school.

“Given that the teaching staff will be at 2017-2018 levels for the winter term, this postponement will have no impact on budgets.”

A spokesperson for North Yorkshire County Council said: “When a formal complaint is received, a complaints process is initiated.

“If a complaint relates to a whole governing body, the school complaints policy makes provision for governors from another school to investigate.

“The county council’s role is to facilitate such an investigation.”