Amble schools want to become one to forge greater links

James Calvert Spence College building in Acklington Road, Amble.
James Calvert Spence College building in Acklington Road, Amble.

Consultation is set to take place on proposals to merge Amble’s high and middle school into one, boosting links and cutting bureaucracy.

It follows the formation of a hard federation this summer – the James Calvert Spence College (JCSC) Federation – under one governing body.

This consists of JCSC Acklington Road, which is the high school site, JCSC South Avenue, which is the middle school site, and Acklington C of E First School.

Now, the governing body wants to merge the middle and high schools, which would require the formal closure of JCSC South Avenue and the extension of the age range at JCSC Acklington Road so that it caters for nine to 18-year-olds.

However, the merger would be unlikely to impact the day-to-day running of the school as nine to 13-year-olds would continue to be educated at the South Avenue site.

According to a report to Northumberland county councillors, ‘it is likely that parents and children would see very few changes to either school structure or organisation.

‘However, in the longer term, the improved flexibility provided by the new structure would enhance capacity to invest in the schools and improve efficiency’.

It adds: ‘The proposal has been put forward by the federated governing body to enable it to forge greater links between the two schools, increase capacity, sharing of management resources and maximise investment. Enhanced continuity will allow the governing body to have more impact on improving the quality of education provided and reduce unnecessary bureaucracy’.

The issue will be discussed by the county council’s family and children’s services scrutiny committee on Monday before going to the cabinet on Tuesday, where it is recommended that members approve a consultation on the changes.

The report explains that the move will simplify the management and administration.

Despite having an executive headteacher for the three schools and one governing body, as separate schools, ‘each has to comply with government regulations and is subject to separate inspection and each has to have a separate self-evaluation report and planning process’.

‘Furthermore, each school has a separate budget and is therefore subject to completing duplicate administrative functions’.