SILSDEN Primary School is set to become part of an academy trust.

The Hawber Cote Lane school is amongst four primaries across the district looking to join the Moorlands Learning Trust.

Headteacher Karl Russell describes the potential partnership as "a very exciting new phase" for 600-pupil Silsden Primary School.

Moorlands Learning Trust already comprises secondary schools Ilkley Grammar and The Skipton Academy.

The other primary schools seeking to join are Ashlands in Ilkley, Burley Oaks and Menston.

Helen Williams, the trust's chief executive officer, says: "We are absolutely thrilled to be moving forward with this partnership project with local primary schools.

"We've always been focused on working with and supporting local schools and communities and as our work is already heavily concentrated in the Ilkley, Wharfe Valley and Craven areas, this new partnership is the perfect next step forward for us all.

"The trust can’t wait to get started on the next phase of its work and we know that over the coming years, with the addition of these new schools, we'll continue to go from strength to strength and will be able to make an even more positive impact on our local communities and beyond!"

Mr Russell says the academisation process is at an early stage and that parents will be fully consulted over the proposal.

The consultation will include an open meeting at the school on March 1, at 6pm, when senior staff from Moorlands Learning Trust will be present to answer questions.

A joint letter from Mr Russell and the school's chair of governors, Richard Moore, has been sent to parents outlining the reasons for the proposal.

In it, they say: "Silsden Primary School is a good school. We have outstanding facilities and a healthy budget. The decision to become an academy is one taken from a position of strength. By joining Moorlands Learning Trust at this stage, we will be combining with other strong effective schools to create a partnership that will help us to improve our school further and enhance the outcomes and experiences of children."

They say benefits would include widening opportunities for pupils’ learning and extra-curricular experiences, an "improved and broader school offer" as a result of sharing best practice, "increased and more flexible" staffing resources, and economic pluses through centralised costs and procurement.

They add: "Becoming part of a multi-academy trust will mean that the formal, legal status of the schools involved will change, however all schools will retain their unique characteristics and identity such as their name and uniform, with their own local governing boards and their respective headteachers overseeing the operational running of their schools as they do now.

"Although we believe that joining the trust alongside these other schools is the right decision for our school, this is only the first part of the process. There are now many stages of due diligence, as well as legal processes, that we will need to engage in over the coming months before we convert to academy status.

"We are also aware that there will be questions from parents and the wider community about this change for Silsden Primary School and so we will be taking time over the coming weeks and months to engage fully about this, to hear feedback and answer any questions.

"This means that the earliest that academy conversion would take place would be at the start of the next academic year."