PARENTS of pupils at a small Yorkshire Dales school are campaigning to leave a federation amid fears staying in it could lead to school closure.

A new model of working for Bainbridge, West Burton and Askrigg primary schools has been agreed by a joint governing body amid challenges with low pupil numbers and finances.

However the possibility of West Burton leaving the federation due to parents’ concern over the amount of travel required for its pupils has also been discussed.

The governors and council had put forward an option which would keep class sizes small and offer financial sustainability but meant a lot of travelling between sites for most pupils, and it failed to receive parent support.

Since then governors have consulted and now agreed on a further option which would see nursery, reception and key stage one classes on the Bainbridge site with key stage two classes divided between Askrigg and West Burton.

However governors also agreed to explore the possibility of West Burton’s de-federation, reflecting the wishes of many parents concerned about the implications of the latest proposal.

Derek Walpole, the federation chairman of governors said: “We have worked very hard to agree on a sustainable solution which involves the least disruption and continues to offer a high quality of education which the children of Wensleydale rightly deserve.

“We have listened hard to what the community has said and believe we have come up with the best solution in very these challenging circumstances. However, we also acknowledge the concern of many respondents and their desire for de-federation, so we will also explore this option in an equally thorough manner.”

“We recognise this has been a very tough decision for the governors to make,” said county councillor Patrick Mulligan, “The council is committed to keeping village schools thriving whenever possible and we continue to campaign with national Government for fairer funding for our smaller rural schools."

The governors added that the de-federation of West Burton runs against all previous advice they had received.

The long term educational and financial impacts of de-federation on all three schools is now to be assessed and aim to complete for presentation at the governing board meeting on June 19.

County councillor for the Upper Dales John Blackie said: "The overwhelming response of parents at West Burton School was that the way forward recommended by the governors seriously threatened the future of their school.

“I as their county councillor was of the same opinion. The governors recognise their aspirations and are actively pursuing the possibility of de-federation. “