West Burton Primary School “certain to close” unless allowed to de-federate

West Burton Primary School.

Parents and community leaders hoping to see West Burton Primary School split from a federation with two other schools have laid out their case for the de-federation.

The documents say the split would be an “exciting chapter in the life of a much-loved local institution”.

However, it is claimed that staying in the Bainbridge, Askrigg and West Burton (BAWB) School Federation would mean the school would be forced to close because parents would move their children elsewhere amid concern about a new structure which would see the youngest travelling on busses to Bainbridge.

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BAWB governors will decide on Wednesday if the Bishopdale school call leave the federation.

Ahead of the crunch meeting, shadow governors who would take over the running of West Burton Primary have set out their vision for the new school and financial calculations which they saw would ensure the school is viable.

A financial report into the proposed departure of West Burton Primary repared by Sally Dunn, head of finance at NYCC, predicts that the stand alone school could face a £100,000 deficit in four year.

The report states that based on current pupil number projections, West Burton would have a “significant” revenue budget deficit which would increase to at least £100,000 in the next four years.

But the figures prepared by West Burton shadow board state that the school’s deficit can be reduced to £6,000 a year, with shadow governors claiming they would be able to pay back any deficits to the LEA over time and establish financial stability by 2031.

The supporting documents submitted by the shadow board of governors who would run the stand-alone school say the primary school has flourished in the past and can do again.

The documents acknowledge the “excellent work” that has been done during the period of federation, which resulted on a positive Ofsted report earlier this year.

The documents state: “It is to protect and enhance that reputation, and to preserve the existence of the school, that we are seeking de-federation.”

They add: “We aim to appoint a dynamic and well qualified headteacher who will be supported by experienced and enthusiastic members of staff, working in all areas of the school.

“These members of staff will in turn be supported by the governing body who will work hard to assist them in their endeavours and to overcome challenges.”

Plans for the school include an increased focus on music with the aim of every pupil leaving able to read music and play an instrument.

There would be efforts to increase pupils’ sporting activities and children would take part in the daily mile running initiative around the village green.

Other plans include a breakfast club, lunch clubs, a school newsletter and new website.

The documents conclude: “Not all of these initiatives would be in place from the outset, but they are represent our vision for a bright and sustainable future for West Burton School.

“In addition, we would strive to manage the change from one system to another as seamlessly and swiftly as possible, reporting on our progress often to parents and other stakeholders.

“We are well aware of the scale of the task ahead of us should we gain our independence, but we are fully committed to this venture and hopeful of a new and exciting chapter in the life of a much-loved local institution.”

Commenting on the proposals submitted to the BAWB governors, Dr Graham Bottley, parent and shadow board parent governor, said: “As a parent of one ex-pupil, two current pupils and one future pupil of West Burton Primary School, I know that there are enormous opportunities available should the school be allowed to de-federate.

“As a shadow parent governor, I have been in constant contact with both current and prospective parents, and there is a tangible excitement at being able to move the school forward in a way that specifically suits the children and families of the local area.”

Sue Ryding, a resident of West Burton and shadow board co-opted community governor, said: “West Burton School has been at the heart of this community for over a hundred years and as such it is a vital part of village life.

“I welcome the opportunity to join with other prospective shadow board governors in our attempt to secure a bright future for this much loved institution.”

Upper Dales county councillor John Blackie has been involved in the discussions around the de-federation proposal and is prospective shadow board member.

He said the LEA had confirmed that both Askrigg and Bainbridge Primary Schools would remain sustainable should West Burton School leave.

He added: “If it stays within the federation West Burton is certain to close as pupil numbers will rapidly decline.

“The shadow board of governors offer a very bright vision for the future of the school, they are very well qualified for the task and ready for the hard work needed to steer it back to success in its stand-alone status.

“There are all the necessary ingredients – spirit, passion, enthusiasm, drive – to ensure they will deliver their objectives, it will benefit hugely the pupils at the school, those who will attend in the future, and the local community it has stood amidst for over 100 years.

“I plead that their request for de-federation is granted.”

You can view the supporting documents submitted by the shadow board below:

NYCC – West Burton Primary School – Proposed additional sources of funding

NYCC – West Burton Primary School – Our Vision

NYCC – West Burton Primary School – Shadow Board and Associates

NYCC – West Burton PS – Defederation Budget – Financial Viability