Ilfracombe Infant and Nursery School will stay in its federation with Goodleigh following a vote from governors.

The decision, announced today (Tuesday, February 19), follows another turbulent week for the school in the wake of suspension of three governors who formally requested the schools 'defederate'.

More than 200 people attended a public meeting on Tuesday, February 12, with the majority feeling the federation was not working, with headteacher Claire Grant dividing her time between both schools, while the school has gone from a rating of 'outstanding' in 2011 to 'requires improvement' in 2017.

With former Ilfracombe governors Iris Watson, Geoff Tonkin and Andy Bradley suspended for six months, it left nine Goodleigh-based governors, the head and one Ilfracombe governor on the board.

A statement on behalf of governors issued today confirmed the federation would continue. It said: "The governors met on Friday to consider the proposal for Ilfracombe Infants to leave the federation. We read every submission from parents, staff and other interested parties.

"The governing body voted to keep the federation together as we were concerned that if we walked away, the negative impact on school improvement would be significant."

It highlighted the three main themes of the consultation with parents, saying that in relation to performance standards had risen at Ilfracombe 'year on year since federation'.

But at Tuesday's meeting, former headteachers Christine Thompson and Theresa Hodge, who steered the school to two 'outstanding' ratings, maintained that standards and attainment had been significantly above national average up to 2013. Theresa left in 2013 and the federation started in 2014.

In relation to leadership at Ilfracombe the governors said they had worked hard to develop the position of the three assistant headteachers.

And in response to the lack of Ilfracombe governors they said there had been no applications from Ilfracombe based parents at the recent elections, but would work to seek people as vacancies arose.

READ MORE: Packed Ilfracombe meeting calls for infant school to split from Goodleigh federation .

'No answer to parents' concerns'

Parent Terry Elliott said the decision was upsetting but came as no surprise. She added: "Information given to parents by the chair and the LEA before their meeting implied that the decision to keep the federation had already been made, regardless of the views of parents.

"The statement has failed to answer all of the concerns that parents have reiterated constantly. The need for a very large school to have its own full time designated head, the huge amount of experienced staff that have left in a short space of time and the change from a creative, nurturing environment that meets the needs of our children to a school that is focused on results above all else.

"Also there has been no acknowledgement of the need to address parent engagement. Of course parents and concerned members of the community will meet again to consider the next steps in the light of this decision but it would appear that the views and concerns of parents have been ignored.

"I might add that with the suspension of the three Ilfracombe governors that this decision was made almost entirely by Goodleigh governors (except for the one staff governor from Ilfracombe).

"How this can be a fair vote that reflects the views of the Ilfracombe learning community escapes me."

READ MORE: Ilfracombe Infants governor suspended 'for bringing in a get well card' .

'Ilfracombe won't accept this'

Suspended governor Andy Bradley said they had to respect the decision but warned this was not the end of the matter. He said: "I have just been informed by a member of the press that, as expected, the governors have rejected the request to defederate - we have to respect their decision.

"Unfortunately neither myself nor the other suspended governors were able to take part in this debate or convey the deep concerns shared by what seems like an overwhelming majority of Ilfracombe parents.

"The head, governors, parent governors, LEA and governor support declined to come and listen to the parents' voice - so a decision has been made on behalf of those parents by those who deemed it inappropriate to meet them.

"I am no longer involved as I have been effectively sacked but I know that the parents and town councillors are not going to accept this decision and the governing body and LEA are going to have to answer to them and explain why they haven't addressed the huge turnover in staff, the reasoned letters complaining of allegations of inappropriate treatment of some staff and the effects that has had on the staff body and the apparent lack of real communication with the parents and community as a whole.

"It came as a shock to hear that many parents and children were unaware of the identity of the head.

"A school belongs to its pupils, their parents and its community and deserves a full time head. I wish all the best for the future of Ilfracombe Infants, Goodleigh and all their pupils and staff and I am sure that the parents will continue to press for an outcome to suit all parties.

"On a personal note, I would like to thank the countless number of members of the Ilfracombe community who have given me support in this difficult situation and share my admiration to two outstanding governors who have given decades of service to Ilfracombe Infants but are now deemed too divisive to serve in future - thank you Iris Watson and Geoff Tonkin from myself and the people of Ilfracombe."

The full statement from governors: We are really sorry for the uncertainty, anxiety and upset this last two weeks has caused to parents/carers from both of our schools and all of our staff across the federation.

The governors met on Friday to consider the proposal for Ilfracombe Infants to leave the federation. We read every submission from parents, staff and other interested parties. The governing body voted to keep the federation together as we were concerned that if we walked away, the negative impact on school improvement would be significant.

Three main themes were raised in the consultation:

1. School performance at Ilfracombe Infants

We are proud that standards have risen year on year since federation and the current age related attainment of children is above the national average. The gap between disadvantaged and non-disadvantaged children has narrowed significantly

2. Leadership structure at Ilfracombe Infants

We have worked hard at developing the positions of the three assistant headteachers and will ensure the importance of these critical roles is clear to all

3. Representation of Ilfracombe based governors on the governing body

Governors are aware that they had no applications from Ilfracombe based parents in the recent elections and as vacancies arise, we will make every effort to seek the appropriate person from the Ilfracombe community, with the required skills and commitment to the federation.

The governing body is committed to build upon our vision to allow every child at both schools to become the best that they can be.