Ermysted’s and the 1972 Local Government Act

The Local Government Act 1972 reformed local government in England and Wales, with changes taking effect at midnight on 1 April 1974.

Before this time, the local authority for Ermysted’s was the West Riding Education Authority and the catchment area included Barnoldswick, Earby and Thornton-in-Craven. The number of pupils coming from those areas resulted in Hartley (at the time including only boys from Earby and Thornton) and Craven (Barnoldswick) Houses being the biggest in the school.

But the 1974 reorganisation put Ermysted’s in a very difficult position, as Skipton became a town on the boundaries of Lancashire County Council, North Yorkshire County Council and West Yorkshire County Council. Because pupils at the time were not allowed to cross county boundaries to schools outside the county in which they resided, Ermysted’s at a stroke lost approximately one third of its intake. Over the ensuing years, as the remaining pupils from those areas grew and left, the school roll declined year on year.

At that stage, the boarding house was still viable and it was possible for boys to board from out of county, as their own authorities were still responsible for the cost of boarding fees and tuition – so efforts were made to maintain the numbers in School House.

However, come 1980, the new Education Act made it quite clear that if a pupil was accepted by the school as being suitable and gained a place, although resident in an area financed by an authority other than North Yorkshire, that other authority would have to pay the costs. Prospective pupils could from that point cross county boundaries and the funding would follow. This was a huge relief to Ermysted’s and allowed the school to concentrate on re-attracting boys from East Lancashire and West Yorkshire and furthermore, extend its reach to areas that even prior to 1974 had been proscribed. Without the 1980 Act, the consequences for Ermysted’s would have been dire.

The change ignited so much demand that the school could subsequently introduce a four form entry, eventually building the numbers on roll today to above 800, the largest in the history of the school.