THE head of Settle Primary School is to take up an executive headship next term with Kirkby Malham Primary School.

The move will see the two sites become a collaboration with a shared headteacher.

Mr Wright said there are plans to develop the provision of both schools, as well as the introduction of a new class and teacher at Kirkby Malham Primary School from this September.

Currently there are 179 pupils at the Settle site and 52 at Kirkby Malham.

There are also plans to reduced class sizes and the introduction of a bespoke after school club this autumn that targets personalised, specialist learning of ICT, music, modern foreign languages and one-to-one tuition supported by a team of curriculum specialists and experienced teachers.

He said: “We have exciting plans for both schools and it is time to raise the bar when it comes to what can be achieved in rural schools.

“I’m delighted to return to where I first started as a headteacher seventeen years ago and to serve as the executive headteacher of two amazing schools!”

During his time at Kirkby Malham the school was awarded government achievement awards and was praised by Ofsted for its highly effective provision.

At one time the school was nationally considered to be one of the top thirty small schools by a national newspaper and during Mr Wright’s tenure, author Bill Bryson called the school the “greatest small school in the universe”.

However, problems have arisen in the past few years at the Kirkby Malham primary school with Ofsted criticising both the county council and the governors for failing to act, stating the school had been through a “recent period of turbulence in leadership”.

The report, dated November 2016, noted that the headteacher had been absent for a lengthy period over the previous academic year and during this period some policies and procedures were not maintained effectively.

Ofsted inspectors said overall effectiveness of the school, which had 44 pupils on role at the time , “required improvement” in leadership and management while it was deemed “good” in other areas such as quality of teaching, learning and assessment, personal development, behaviour and welfare, outcomes for pupils and early years provision.

The inspectors said: “Although leaders have not kept as close a rein as they could on the quality of teaching, learning and assessment in key stage 2, pupils have continued to make good progress overall.

“Governance is not effective. The governing body did not check closely enough on what effect the headteacher’s absence was having on leadership or seek support from the local authority soon enough.”

The inspectors were also critical of North Yorkshire County Council, saying: “The local authority was slow to intervene and provide the support the school needed when the headteacher was first absent.”

However, inspectors were more positive about the interim headteacher.

They said: “The interim headteacher has quickly established a working relationship with the governing body and evaluated the depth of governors’ knowledge of the school.

“Together, they have begun to identify what actions need to be taken to address the shortfalls seen in the last academic year and produce a strategic plan to increase the effectiveness of the governing body.”

Since the decision to merge the schools was formalised in June, Mr Wright has hit the ground running with ambitious plans to transform learning at Kirkby Malham Primary School when he starts in September.

Mr Wright said, “I am really honoured and privileged to be the leader of an incredible staff team.

“I am grateful to the governors of both schools for putting their trust in me and showing incredible vision and ambition. I look forward to our schools growing from strength to strength and evolving into a flag ship North Yorkshire School.”

Ofsted inspectors are due to revisit Kirkby Malham school over the next year.