West Burton School shadow governors hand over defederation request

From left, Cllr Roland Dent, from Burton-cum-Walden Parish Council, County councillor John Blackie, Juliet Madden, West Burton School shadow governing board, David Madley, BAWB Federation governor, Dr Graham Bottley, West Burton School shadow governing board, Alison Calvert, shadow governing board and Anthony Faith, shadow governing board.

Members of the shadow governing board of West Burton Primary School have handed over an official notice requesting the school’s release from the BAWB Primary School Federation.

The shadow board wants the school to return to being a stand-alone independent school.

The notice was handed over to David Madley, one of the governors on the BAWB Federation board, which runs Bainbridge, Askrigg and West Burton schools.

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Also present was the county councillor for the Upper Dales, John Blackie.

The notice was accompanied by a list of reasons why, according to the shadow board, the proposed new educational arrangements for the BAWB schools were likely to result in the closure of the West Burton within a year or less.

The documents also listed why the shadow board thought the de-federation promised a bright and sustainable future for the school.

More than 80 local people have signed up to endorse the documents, including the vast majority of parents.

The hand-over follows a public meeting in which parents of its 22 schoolchildren voted unanimously to support de-federation as the only way to provide a secure future for the school.

A shadow governing board of six members has been formed to oversee the transition to a stand-alone school should the BAWB board of governors, who will make the final decision, authorise its release from the federation.

Dr Graham Bottley is leading the shadow board as one of its two parent governors

He said: “As a parent I feel strongly that West Burton Primary School needs once again to become independent.

“I have two children at the school and another due to start in two years and I feel it is unlikely it will still be open for my youngest if it remains part of the BAWB Federation.

“Recently it has become very stressful as a parent with the constant uncertainty caused by children being bussed around the dale, by class reorganisations, by threats of closure.”

He added: “I put myself forward as a shadow governor for an independent West Burton School because it produces such happy and high achieving pupils, so I believe strongly it must be allowed to continue into the future whilst supporting the community it is located amidst.

“I will put whatever time and effort needed to secure this objective, and I know my fellow shadow governors all feel the same.”

County councillor John Blackie supports the request for de-federation as long as it will leave sustainable the remaining two schools in the federation, serving Bainbridge and Askrigg.

He said: “It seems the new educational arrangements proposed by the BAWB Federation could threaten an almost immediate closure of West Burton School, and I have no doubt there is an overwhelming desire amongst the parents to see it return to being a stand-alone school in future.

“I trust the BAWB Governors will take this desire into account and grant them the objective they so passionately seek.

He added: “We are not fighting to save a failing institution, far from it.

“West Burton School provides a first-rate educational experience for its pupils as the very recent judgement by Ofsted confirmed. Long may it remain open to continue its outstanding track record.”

BAWB governors say they will consider whether it is feasible for one of the schools to leave the federation.

The governing board of Bainbridge, Askrigg and West Burton (BAWB) Federation confirmed 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.

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.