A fight to save a Northumberland middle school from possible closure is gaining momentum after a series of petitions to keep it open have collected more than 1,200 signatures.
The community in Seahouses has been vocal in its protests since the future of the village’s middle school was thrown into doubt. It comes after Northumberland County Council published proposals for the restructuring of schools in north Northumberland, following requests from the Alnwick Partnership, which is made up of 10 community schools with an added eight church-funded schools as voluntary members.
Last month, residents held a demonstration to show their support for the school. Today it has been announced that petitions against the closure have sparked a huge response.
Writing on the Save Seahouses Middle School From Closure Facebook page, Rebecca Ternent posted: “Well we’ve got all but a couple of petitions back in as a few seem to have been mis-placed. Thank you to everyone who helped to get them out and back in. I’ve now counted them all and we have got 1,216 signatures!!!! I think that is brilliant and really shows the support we have. #saveseahousesmiddleschool.”
The county council’s report sets out three models for the future, with one being no change to the current arrangement of schools in the area.
Another would see the amalgamation of the Duke’s and Lindisfarne middle schools on the Lindisfarne site from September 2015, following the closure of Lindisfarne Middle School in August.
The third option would see the closure of Lindisfarne, the Duke’s and Seahouses middle schools in August 2016; the extension of the age ranges of Swansfield Park, Branton, Hipsburn, Seahouses, Shilbottle and Swarland first schools to primary schools for age three/four to 11; and the extension of the age range of the Duchess’s Community High School to an 11-18 secondary school from September 2016.
However, if this two-tier option were brought in, the new high school at Greensfield would still only house students from Year 9 upwards with Year 7 and 8 pupils still based at the Lindisfarne Middle site, but as part of a secondary school.
The governing bodies of Ellingham CE VA First School, Embleton Vincent Edward’s CE First School, Felton CE First School, Longhoughton CE First School, St Paul’s RC VA First School, St Paul’s RC VA Middle School, St Michael’s CE First School and Whittingham CE First School are carrying out their own consultations.
At the county council’s policy board meeting in December, it was agreed to launch the consultation, but with an amendment to include the schools in Belford and Wooler.
This followed concerns raised by the respective ward councillors, John Woodman and Anthony Murray, who pointed out that a large proportion of children from the middle schools in both communities go to Alnwick for high school, not Berwick, and that therefore any changes ‘would have a substantial knock-on impact’.
To read and respond to the school consultation document on the county council website, follow this link.