Wensleydale School looks at academy and federation options

The Wensleydale School and Sixth Form.

The Wensleydale School has told parents it is looking at alternative funding options to ensure a sustainable future.

The Leyburn school is considering whether to become an academy and join an existing multi-academy trust (MAT) or form a new MAT.

This option would see the school leave local education authority (LEA) control and receive direct funding from the Department for Education.

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Another option being assessed by the governing body is to federate with other local secondary and primary schools, which would potentially mean the school stayed under LEA control.

Headteacher Julia Polley told parents at a meeting last week that discussions were taking place with two existing MATs, as well as LEA officers about alternative federation options.

Parents were told the pressures on school budgets were significant and 76 per cent of all schools had now converted to academies, although this number dropped to 37 per cent in North Yorkshire.

The meeting heard that there was a concern Wensleydale would be left behind if it failed to convert to an academy, while other schools made the move.

Mrs Polley said: “The pressures on the budget are huge, but I must reiterate everything that can be done, is being done to ensure we have a sustainable financial situation.

“There is no denying staff are having to work smarter with less physical ‘stuff’ than ever before, but as I said last night, we maintain subject specialist teachers in every subject and are not planning on making any changes to class sizes or reduce the quality of education provision.”

She added: “There are challenges with all of these options, but the governors and I are doing all the right things in terms of consulting with potential multi academy trusts, scrutinising federation options and working closely with senior officers in the LA.”

The head said there was a “demographic dip” in the area which would see the school lose 88 year 11 students each year and for the next three years only gaining 60-plus year 7s.

“This drop of 20 students year on year has an impact on the budget,” added Mrs Polley.

“To counter this we are working with primary schools in the wider area, which is having a very positive effect and attracting new students.”

“Although it is tough I am very confident that the school will come through this and be a better and stronger place, providing quality education to the community of the Leyburn area.”