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Upper Wharfedale Primary Federation

On 1st February 2017 the four primary schools of Burnsall Voluntary Aided Church of England, Cracoe & Rylstone Voluntary Controlled Church of England, Grassington Voluntary Controlled Church of England and Kettlewell LA, federated and became ‘The Upper Wharfedale Primary Federation’. All our schools are small and have 23, 55, 74 and 27 on roll respectively at the time of going to press.

The individual schools have retained their distinctive nature and ethos whilst being able to derive all the benefits associated with federation. We are looking forward to working with our new Executive Headteacher to unlock the potential of the Federation and explore exciting opportunities for further development. 

The vision of the Governors is clear:

“To promote a collegiate and inclusive approach to raising standards in local schools allowing young people to be educated as close to home as possible”

We share our staff expertise across the four schools, having subject leads across the Federation and base leaders in each school. The staff work closely together supporting each other with good practice, ideas and methodologies and assessments. They plan joint learning events for the children, where they can learn in a wider context and in an enriched environment.

The Federation has just one Governing Body of twelve members: this consists of two elected Parent Governors, one elected Staff Governor, one Local Authority Governor, the Executive Headteacher and four Foundation Governors. In addition, three Governors were co-opted on to the Board following a skills audit. There is a breadth of knowledge, variety of experience and expertise on the Board.

All four Federation schools lie within the Yorkshire Dales National Park, an area of natural beauty, giving the new Executive Headteacher a unique opportunity to work and possibly live in Upper Wharfedale. The area has an economy based on farming and tourism and our pupils come from local villages within rural communities. The catchment area is 22 miles from top to toe and measures 115 square miles. Travelling time between the individual schools is approximately 20 minutes.

Special and unique

The Federation of four schools is unique within the county. The schools are all integral to their communities and play a vital role in local village life.

Burnsall, founded in 1602, has been educating children for over 400 years; Cracoe & Rylstone (1853) benefits from the very close proximity of its spacious village hall, which can be used as an additional teaching space; Grassington, (20th century) the largest of our schools, is located in the centre of the tourist village itself, whilst Kettlewell (1885), half a mile outside the village, commands magnificent views across the Dale.


The schools are all warm, friendly, welcoming places with staff, pupils and parents all working hard together with a common purpose. Our emphasis on safety and wellbeing together with the drive to enable each child to become the best individual he/she can be, is embedded in the ethos of all four schools. Three of our schools are Church schools; they cultivate and display an associated distinctive Christian ethos.


At the present time, in addition to the Executive Headteacher, we have three base leaders with QTS and one base leader who is also school manager but does not have QTS. We have our own SENCO and subject leads across the Federation. Three of our schools have part-time administration assistants whilst the role is carried out by the school manager in the fourth school. We have three classes at Grassington and two classes at the other three schools. Exciting opportunities exist for unlocking potential.

Current strengths

All schools are Good – Cracoe is Outstanding.

Areas for Development across the Federation

Cracoe and Burnsall

Improvements will be measured against FFT 20 predictions.

  • Improving results for higher achieving groups' progress and attainment in all subjects in both Key stages.
  • Improving in year progress for Years 4 & 5.


Improvements will be measured against FFT 20 predictions.

  • Improving standards in writing in both Key Stages.
  • Improving standards within Key Stage 2 in spelling, punctuation and grammar.


Improvements will be measured against FFT 20 predictions.

  • Improved results in writing in Key Stage 1.
  • Improved attainment and progress within Key Stage 2 in maths.
  • Improved attainment and progress within Key Stage 2 in writing.
  • Improved attainment and progress within Key Stage 2 in SPG.


Improvements will be measured against FFT 50 predictions.

  • Improved progress within Key Stage 2 for all groups for writing, maths, reading and SPG.
  • Improve quality of maths teaching in Years 2-6.
  • Improved attainment at Key Stage 2 for all groups, in reading, writing, SPG and particularly in maths.

Pupil achievement

Current Data is available but please note that due to small cohorts it is not statistically valid: progress is judged on an individual pupil basis.

Short term priorities

  • Continue the drive to raise standards in writing, spelling and mathematics.
  • Consider opportunities to fuse classes across the schools to enhance educational opportunities and maximise the deployment of staff.
  • Continue the drive to increase pupil numbers.
  • Continue liaison with Nursery providers.
  • Continue to develop the subject lead teacher role in each school.

Long term plans

  • Optimise pupil numbers and plan for financial sustainability.
  • Maintain and improve educational provision across all four sites.
  • Maintain and improve communication and stakeholder engagement.
  • Embed ‘Federation’ within local communities.

Future opportunities       

Work with the Governing Board to:

  • Maintain all four sites while ever financially and educationally sustainable.
  • Consider extending the Federation.
  • Develop leadership capacity within the Federation.

Challenges and barriers

  • Funding.
  • Fluctuating pupil numbers.
  • Transport cost from out of catchment.

Budgetary Information

Pupil numbers in small rural schools fluctuate and even small changes can alter the financial picture dramatically. The Governors have a good grasp of and insight into budget issues and constantly reassess and plan for sustainability. Budget positions are transparent within the community to allow for ownership of decision making. Deficits have been reduced and sustainability managed in this way. We have recently initiated a programme of sponsored giving to support budgets.

Wider Community

Our schools are central to the communities they serve and there is strong support for them, evidenced by the success of our recent programme of sponsored giving which exists to supplement our budgets. All schools also benefit from ‘Friends’ or PTA groups who work very hard to raise funds for the schools and succeed in raising huge sums. Our communities have high expectations of the Governors and the Executive Headteacher in terms of transparency and communication. Expectations around pupil behaviour are also high. All schools enjoy links with local churches and clergy.

We work hard to maintain links with our communities

  • Weekly newsletter from each school to parents, Church and Governors.
  • Daily greet as appropriate (many travel by bus).
  • Church services/festival readings/assemblies.
  • Church Youth and Children’s Leader: Rewind to Christmas/Easter.
  • Thriving and passionately supportive Friends of the School in each community.
  • Frequent notices in local magazines.
  • Governor website (under construction).
  • Hosting charity/event days.
  • Half-termly (minimum) letter from Governors to parents.
  • Updating of Parish Councils by Governors.

Our communities similarly provide huge financial and other support organising a wide variety of activities.

The Governors and Executive Headteacher are extremely well supported by the Local Authority School Improvement Services and by Diocesan advisers. We have excellent relationships with both, who provide an appropriate degree of support and challenge.


About living and working in North Yorkshire

North Yorkshire is England's largest county and one of the most rural. The area comprises the Yorkshire Dales and North Yorkshire Moors, three Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, the Pennines and a stunning coastline around Scarborough and Whitby. The area hosted the phenomenal Tour de France in 2014, and due to its success has created the Tour de Yorkshire with global recognition. There are ruined castles and abbeys, serene gardens, unique breweries, thrilling rides and industrial heritage. Something for everyone!

The Upper Wharfedale Primary Federation lies in the heart of the Yorkshire Dales, to the north of Skipton. For outdoor enthusiasts the Dales have plenty to offer. For walkers there is a huge range of walks to explore, ranging from riverside strolls to serious fell walking; three of the schools lie on the route of The Dales Way long distance walk from Ilkley to Windermere. Following the Tour De France and the now annual Tour de Yorkshire, the area is a magnet for road cyclists, as well as providing excellent mountain biking. There is an abundance of climbing venues, ranging from the hard gritstone of Brimham rocks to the limestone of Malham, Gordale and Kilnsey. The Yorkshire Dales is a premier area for caving and there is an excellent sailing venue at Grimwith. The North York Moors and Lake District National Parks are within a 90 minute drive.

The local town, Skipton, was judged the best place to live in Britain by the Sunday Times (2014). A little further away is the Spa town of Harrogate and the ancient city of York, the most visited city outside of London. The cities of Leeds, Bradford and Manchester provide a wide range of shopping, leisure and cultural facilities as well as excellent schools, universities, road and rail links. There really is everything to offer you and your family as a place to work, live and enjoy!

Travelling further afield we have convenient connectivity, with close proximity to metropolitan cities of Leeds and Newcastle, with little over three hours commute on the main train line to London. We border the Lake District, Lancashire, County Durham, and Yorkshire & Humber regions with all they have to offer.


Useful Links

Diocese of Leeds

Welcome to Yorkshire

Inspire Lead Teach




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