A TINY school is fighting Government moves to make it an academy which some fear would see the building close.

Oldfield Primary – which has fewer than 50 pupils – was slapped with an academy order by the Department for Education after a damning Ofsted report last year, in which it was rated ‘inadequate’ and placed in special measures.

But the school says massive improvements, begun even before the inspection team’s scathing document was published in September, have been made.

And there are concerns that ‘academising’ the school would be a retrograde step, which could even put the future of the 142-year-old building in jeopardy.

Bradford Council is backing the battle, and is appealing against the academy order.

Support is also being provided by Keighley MP John Grogan, who has raised the issue in Parliament and visited the school to chat with staff, governors and parents.

He is seeking an urgent meeting in London, accompanied by school representatives, with School Standards minister Nick Gibb to plead the case.

Mr Grogan said Oldfield Primary was just two days away from formally becoming part of the Ingrow & Long Lee – or Footprints – Federation, when the Ofsted report was published. The move was frozen.

“The federation has been helping the school with staff, resources and expertise and huge improvements have been made,” he said.

“Standards are rising – there has been a total transformation.

“There are good academies in Keighley as there are good community schools.

“However, evidence indicates where academisation has happened before, small schools often close.

“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

Mr Grogan said his office had been inundated with letters from Oldfield parents, backing the school.

Executive headteacher, Angela Vinnicombe, says the Ingrow & Long Lee Federation has been supporting the school “intensively” since the end of September and as a result there had been “rapid improvement”.

She added: “It seems a shame that the issuing of academy orders by the Department for Education has halted the process of federation, especially when this is a solution backed and embraced by families, staff and the local authority.

“After a term of positive change at Oldfield, it would be disappointing to dissolve this strong, established working partnership and start from scratch with another.

“Working as the executive head for the school has reinforced to me the importance of preserving the individual characteristics that make each school unique. Oldfield is a small school with a big heart and a big future!”

Pam Freeman, who is chairman of the governors at Oldfield as well as Ingrow and Long Lee, said all the issues in the Ofsted report had been addressed.

“We have made lots of changes,” she said.

“We’ve updated the safeguarding, classes have been moved around, teachers have undergone training.

“A lot of hard work has been put in as a federation to turn things around.

“We have worked closely with the local authority on this, and it is fully behind us.

“It is a vibrant school now. We are happy, the local authority is happy.

“If the school was academised, there would just be more uncertainty.

“The children are there for an education – more upheaval is not what we want or need.

“We are moving on and upwards.

“Despite the Ofsted report and throughout this period, not one child has been taken out of the school. That is testament to the school and what we are doing.

“A lot of children come from outside the village to attend a small, bespoke community school. They do not want an academy.”

Parent and governor, Emma Considine, says her five-year-old daughter Martha loves attending.

Miss Considine fears it will be “a disaster” if the school is academised.

“No other school in the district can offer the same as Oldfield,” she said.

“The location is second to none and it’s like a close-knit family there.

“The children are polite and all get on really well.

“We live at Exley Head and there are nearer schools, but we chose Oldfield Primary.

“It has its own unique identity, and to be forced into an academy is the last thing we want.

“It’s improved massively and that improvement had started before publication of the Ofsted report.

“Staff have gelled with federation colleagues.

“The school is at the heart of the community and that could be ripped apart if we become part of an academy.

“A lot of parents have shed tears over this.”

Fellow parent and governor, Hannah Fuller, from Oakworth, has a six-year-old daughter – Yasmine – at the school.

“She is really happy there,” she said.

“The school was involved with the Ingrow & Long Lee Federation before the Ofsted report came out and was already on the road to improvement.

“The federation understands us and there is a good partnership.

“Having a new body come in would just take us backwards and undo good work.

“Staff have been up-skilled to manage changes, which in turn has helped instil more self-worth.

“I am really proud of what has happened so far.”

Councillor Imran Khan, Bradford Council’s portfolio holder for education, employment and skills, said a public consultation opposed the academy move and he was also strongly against it.

He added: “The most important thing in this decision is what’s best for the children who attend Oldfield Primary School.

“We’ve seen recent rapid improvement in performance at the school and this needs to continue.

“I fear that forcing the school to become an academy could undermine progress at this important time and would also go against the wishes of the recent public consultation.”

The Department for Education said it was considering the local authority’s appeal.

A spokesman added: “More will be announced in due course.”