Lifeline for threatened first school

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A NORTH Northumberland village school under threat of closure has been handed a lifeline.

Last December, a 12-week consultation was launched with a view to closing Branton Community First School from the end of August this year.

At the time, no pupils were registered to come into reception class in September this year, which would leave only four pupils at the school.

But now the county council’s executive is recommended to agree that the school stays open after a change of heart from the governors, who called for the initial consultation.

According to a report ahead of Monday’s meeting, the factors leading to their change of mind include:

l Overwhelming community response against the proposal.

l The potential of opening a nursery at Branton with a possible three children for January 2013, as well as younger siblings in the future.

l Two children have joined the school since the consultation began, boosting numbers to eight. However, the school budget is still not sustainable.

l The school has received written financial pledges of support, about £9,000 in 2012/13 and £3,100 in 2013/14, which would keep the school financially viable with current staffing levels until August 2014.

Of those who responded to the consultation document, 53 disagreed with the proposal to close the school while none agreed.

Other alterntaive suggestions were to share a headteacher with another school and to develop initiatives to promote the school.