Meetings taking place as Northumberland schools fight goes on

Protesters who want to save Seahouses Middle School.
Protesters who want to save Seahouses Middle School.

Three communities fighting to save their schools are holding meetings in the coming week ahead of key decisions being made later this year.

A public meeting on the ongoing schools consultation will be held at Embleton Vincent Edwards CE First School tonight at 7pm, while Northumberland County Council officers will also attend meetings at Branton Community First School on Tuesday (October 6) and Seahouses Middle School next Thursday (October 8), both at 7pm.

Save Embleton School T-shirts were the order of the day at the village first school's summer fair.

Save Embleton School T-shirts were the order of the day at the village first school's summer fair.

In June this year, a switch to a two-tier system of primary and secondary schools in Alnwick and the surrounding area, which would result in the closure of four middle schools and two first schools, began to look more likely.

A report recommended that a statutory consultation was launched on making the Duchess’s Community High School a secondary school for 11 to 18-year-olds from September 2017 and the closure of The Duke’s, Lindisfarne, St Paul’s RC Aided and Seahouses Middle Schools in August 2017.

Hipsburn, Shilbottle, Swansfield Park, Swarland, Seahouses First, St Michael’s CE, Longhoughton CE, Ellingham CE, Felton CE, Whittingham CE and St Paul’s RC First Schools would become primary schools from September 2016.

Plus, in what came out of the blue for the communities, it was also proposed that Embleton Vincent Edwards CE First School would close in August 2016, followed by Branton First School in August 2017.

The county council’s cabinet voted to push ahead with further consultation on its preferred model, but assurances were made that any alternatives put forward will be considered.

A likely alternative that will be put forward is for a mixed economy, allowing Alnwick to convert to a primary and secondary set-up while the rural areas like Seahouses can keep their three-tier structure.

For their part, campaigners trying to keep Embleton school open are happy for the partnership to switch to a two-tier set-up, but they maintain that Embleton can operate as a primary school within that system.

The consultation documents are available on the county council’s website and it runs until Thursday, October 22.