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Parents plea for support to keep Burnt Yates School's doors open

Parents of pupils at Burnt Yates are calling support during the consultation
Parents of pupils at Burnt Yates are calling support during the consultation

Parents are pleading for support to oppose the proposed closure of a Harrogate school which they say has faced ‘systematic failures’.

A public consultation was launched by North Yorkshire County Council on Tuesday, running until February 27, asking for views on the possible closure of Burnt Yates CE Primary School.

Ofsted inspectors rated the school ‘inadequate’ in 2016 and, due to government policy, an academisation order was issued. However, both the search for a trust and an amalgamation with Ripley CE Primary School failed.

Linda Smith, a parent of a child at the school said: “Many local Church of England schools are due an inspection, and a lot of them cannot hold enough pupils for an academy to look at then as viable. We are pleading with the public to support us.”

She added: “A lot of people are working parents with nine to five jobs, relying on after school care at the school.

“If it goes some are looking at having to travel further.

“Parents who have left say they were already told they got the last space.”

Lower Nidderdale Coun Nathan Hull, who has two children at the school, said the situation was ‘farcical’ and suggested a wider amalgamation could support small schools in the Dales.

Coun Hull believes Ofsted’s concerns over safeguarding at Burnt Yates could have been addressed if resources had been made available.

He said: “The problem we have is that bigger primary schools have the support to deal with the admin work behind policies such as safeguarding, yet smaller schools in the Dales have sometimes one person to deal with the same amount.

“Surely NYCC has thought of amalgamating heads or the admin? Looking at the situation, including the build up to Ofsted where we were told nothing, there appears to be systematic failure from top to bottom.”

Parents have flagged concerns that if their children remain at the school places could not be guaranteed elsewhere. NYCC says if places are available and a school agrees it can assist them.

An NYCC spokesperson said: “This has been a difficult decision and taken only after a range of alternatives were considered, such as academisation and collaborating and amalgamating with other schools. As attempts to find structural change through academy conversion or amalgamation have failed, the statutory process to cease to maintain Burnt Yates Primary School had to be considered.”

They added: “The county council’s schools admissions team are always happy to give advice to parents about school places.”