North Yorkshire County Council issued the following statement today concerning the BAWB Federation of Schools and West Burton CofE School. And see below for the letter I sent to them on June 25 in which I pointed out that it had taken just two years for the Federation’s governing board to lose the confidence and respect of all the parents of children at West Burton CofE School.
Statement issued by North Yorkshire County Council on Friday, July 13:
The governing board of three Wensleydale primary schools has decided it cannot support the wishes of community members and parents at West Burton Church of England Primary School for the school to defederate.
Governors of Bainbridge and West Burton Church of England primary schools and Askrigg Voluntary Controlled primary school, which are federated as a single body, took a decision against West Burton’s defederation at a meeting last night.
This decision follows a period of due diligence when governors met with representatives of the West Burton community to explore their wishes to defederate.
The West Burton community started to push for defederation after the governing board decided in May to remodel the federation in order to address the challenges they face around lower pupil numbers and finances.
Governors believe that their agreed option – which followed two separate consultations and which involves nursery, reception and key stage 1 classes on the Bainbridge site with key stage 2 classes divided between Askrigg and West Burton – provided the best educational and financial advantages.
However, as many respondents from West Burton were unhappy with this decision, governors also agreed to explore the possibility of West Burton’s defederation.
“We worked very hard as a governing body to agree a sustainable solution which involves the least disruption and continues to offer a very high quality of education for the children of Wensleydale,” said Derek Walpole, the federation chair of governors. “It was a very tough decision for governors to make and was never going to please everybody.
“This subsequent decision against defederation has also been very tough. We recognise the concern of West Burton’s parents and have listened very hard to what they have had to say. But we believe it is better if schools work together and we must also consider the sustainability of all three schools and what is in the best educational and social interests of children.
“We respect the decision of the governing body” said County Councillor Patrick Mulligan, North Yorkshire’s Executive Member for Schools. “Governors have explored the possibility of West Burton defederating with diligence and thoroughness and have listened very carefully to what people have had to say. The county council will continue to work with the governing body in future to continue to tackle the challenges of sustainability.”
On the website of the Bainbridge, Askrigg and West Burton Federation of Schools the headteacher, Charlotte Harper, states: “We work actively with our parents and community to ensure that we provide the best educational experience for our children. At Bainbridge and West Burton our Christian ethos underpins the life of the schools and is the basis of our excellent relationships with our parents, local communities and churches.”
I was so concerned that the Federation was not doing this that on June 25 I wrote the following letter to the co-headteachers and the governors:
I am a member of Aysgarth Parochial Church Council and, in the past few months, I have attended two meetings of parents of West Burton CofE School. The following are my personal opinions.
As I said to Heather Limbach (the West Burton school diocesan foundation governor on the BAWB Board of Governors) some time ago, I do not think that bussing the youngest cohort of children from West Burton school to Bainbridge each day as proposed in Option 3A is in accordance with any aspect of educational good practice.
I have read the documents on the BAWB Schools website concerning Due Diligence. I await with interest the budget projections drawn up by some parents of children at West Burton School to see how these compare with that of Sally Dunn, head of finance at North Yorkshire County Council.
I also read James Kilner’s report of 5th June following his Due Diligence visit during the summer term of 2018. I have several concerns about that report and outline some of these below. Some of that report was very general and was not specific to the BAWB Federation of Schools including Improving outcomes and the Summary. It did seem to paint a glowing picture of the Federation and its leadership but didn’t provide any evidence to substantiate this. Surely an important Due Diligence report should be based upon evidence?
At the top of page three Mr Kilner stated that the Federation was well led and managed and added: “The strength of leadership is at all levels including a well-informed, professional and forward thinking governing body of the Federation.”
Yet, at the meetings I attended in West Burton I was saddened to see that the majority, if not all, of the parents of children at West Burton school expressed the opinion that, within two years of joining the BAWB Federation, they had lost any respect and trust they had had in its leadership.
Has the leadership been well-informed about this erosion of confidence? And if those parents are so disillusioned how does that impact upon the expected benefits to families and children at West Burton school? For, as Mr Kilner stated (page 6) – the benefits to families and the children’s outcomes should be maximised.
Mr Kilner visited the three schools before Option 3A has been introduced. On April 19th the executive Headteacher outlined Option 3A to parents, carers and stakeholders (published on the BAWB website).
The “cons” listed included: “Only 17 children on site at West Burton – isolating”; “Only 1 class at Askrigg – isolating”; and “cohorts of children never being taught together.”
I cannot see how that fits with Mr Kilner’s statement under the heading Effective practice (page 6) : “Schools with large Integrated learning that offers a balance of free flow and structure learning demonstrate the most effective practice…. “ Or under “Summary” – “Therefor (sic), securing children’s personal, social and emotional readiness to learn ….. can best be achieved when children are able to interact with a large number of their peers wherever possible.” (For which Mr Kilner offers no evidence.)
This surely does not fit with an option which increases the isolation of children. Nor will pupils grow in confidence and learn to cope with stress when their parents don’t feel that neither they nor their children are being well cared for by the Federation.
I, therefore, question how useful Mr Kilner’s report is concerning Due Diligence. Please could you enlighten me.
(As yet I have received no response.)
For James Kilner’s Due Diligence Report 5th June 2018 go to BAWB-Community Engagement
And for details of Option 3A go to the same page on the BAWB website and read Community Engagement Archive
For the response from the West Burton community and parents see West Burton documents produced by John Blackie