The parents of children at West Burton CofE School and many in the community served by that school have lost confidence in the BAWB Board of Governors, Stuart Carlton, North Yorkshire County Council’s Corporate Director of Children and Young People’s Service, has stated.
He wrote to Derek Walpole, chair of the BAWB Board of Governors, in November 2018, to explain why the county council as the local education authority (LA) had reversed its decision and decided to support the request to defederate West Burton school.
He recognised that the BAWB governors had hoped that during the autumn term of 2018 the new transporting arrangements (bussing) would be successfully implemented and that the parents of children at West Burton school would, therefore, no longer have any objections.
But he added: “The transportation of pupils away from West Burton will never be accepted by the West Burton parents and community. There is obvious parental and community discord which means the three BAWB federation would lose West Burton support and this has negative implications for the education of all children.
“I believe, based on what I have seen and heard that the relationship between the parties is broken beyond repair as the West Burton parents and community have (despite your best efforts and unfairly in my view) lost confidence in the BAWB governance as evidenced by the formal complaint.”
Since mid 2018 there have been several meetings of parents and community members connected with West Burton school to which BAWB governors were invited but none attended. According to the minutes of the meeting of the BAWB Board of Governors in November 2018 it was pointed out that there was a vacancy for a co-opted member but the parents of children at West Burton School were not invited to nominate anyone. Those parents have constantly pointed out that not one of the BAWB governors has listened to their arguments against bussing the youngest cohort of children from West Burton to Bainbridge during school days.
Mr Carlton did emphasise that decisions about the federation rested with the BAWB governors – and on January 21 the latter again decided against defederation. Following that decision several of the parents of pupils at West Burton school met to consider their options which included moving their children to other schools not connected to BAWB.
Referring to the minutes of the BAWB governance meetings in November and December 2018 they pointed out, yet again, how out of touch all the federation governors were with the majority of the parents of children attending West Burton school and the communities within its catchment area. The parents were angry and upset about some of the statements in those minutes which, they said, misrepresented them.
They very strongly disagreed with the following statements in those minutes: that parents could have been under duress to sign the letter requesting defederation; that the request for defederation had come from just five families and that Option 3a (bussing) could be seen to be working well with the children happy and settled.
Their anger and frustration increased when they read the eight-page letter of January 31 2019 from the Executive Head of the BAWB Federation, Charlotte L Harper, in which she explained the reasons why their request for defederation had been refused.
She wrote: “In his letter Mr Carlton reiterated on many occasions that the West Burton Community and parents have lost confidence in the BAWB Board and that there was unresolvable discord between BAWB Board and the ‘community’. The BAWB Board challenged the assertions about the community. The Director and LA officers have ONLY spoken with the defederation group, many of whom do not live in West Burton.”
Miss Harper continued: “It is not clear what ‘community’ refers to, but the BAWB Board are aware of support from many long standing residents of West Burton, at least two of whom have now written to him. The BAWB Board are concerned that the LA have demonstrated a clear lack of impartiality by relying solely on evidence given to them by the group seeking defederation, and then repeating this in writing without any checks or clarity of definition.”
The catchment area for West Burton school includes Walden, Bishopdale, Thoralby, Aysgarth, Swinithwaite, West Witton and even part of Redmire so it is not surprising that the parents requesting defederation (representing 85 per cent of the children in that school) do not all live in West Burton.
Mr Carlton has stated that the LA came to an impartial view based on the issues placed before it.
Miss Harper’s letter can be read here.
The reasons given by the county council for supporting defederation can be read here.