EDUCATION: Parents, back our middle schools

The Alnwick school partnership is in consultation on whether it should change to a two-tier system.

This isn’t being driven by the council – it is being instigated by a number of schools within the partnership who would like to go two-tier, but is this really a two-tier system when children in Years 7 and 8 will be schooled in the annex at Lindisfarne Middle School?

I write this to you as parents of children who are currently in the three-tier system to ask you whether you think a two-tier system is right for our children.

As parents, you have an opportunity to express your concerns and opinions (whether it is a church school or not). I know of a lot of parents who don’t know what is happening and are receiving very little information from their school.

Ask your headteacher/chair of governor what their opinion is on this, find out what it will mean for your child. They must have an opinion on what they believe is right for your child.

I have asked a number of the parents at my local middle school (Seahouses) what they believe makes a middle school.

These are some of their responses: Specialist teachers who specialise in subjects like music, ICT, PE; the staff that make children with special educational needs feel safe, secure and well educated in their own community which, in my opinion, cannot be replaced; teachers knowing your children and you as a parent – that personal touch; the after-school clubs – will I be able to allow my child to attend after-school clubs when they are in Year 7 of a two-tier system, will there be transport available for them to get home?; having great teachers that you can approach at any time and are always very understanding and supportive to us and our children.The credit award system is very popular, boosting self-confidence and self-esteem; they are still growing as people and the staff support them in this, they know each child inside out. They help each child as an individual, they feel safe and happy, and because the numbers are lower than a secondary school, they get the chance to be on school teams where in a larger school this wouldn’t happen. They try new things including sport/music and trips away; seeing all the kids’ confidence grow, watching them taking responsibilities and flourishing. Involving the community both the older and younger generations; an opportunity to learn how to play the piano accordion; children feeling good about themselves, being proud of their school, loving the opportunity to come back to the school they loved to be at.

I think the middle school gives every child a different experience as they are allowed to explore different choices to let me grow whether they enjoy sport, singing, acting, playing a musical instrument, craft things ,etc.

Please think about these things that make a good middle school.

Do you think that you will get the same in a primary school?

What makes a middle school unique is that it is a great stepping-stone for children who come from small first schools – it allows them to develop all the necessary social skills they will need to move through the school system.

You will not get that if the system is primary, secondary. What you will get is children transferring to an annex of the secondary school at the end of Year 6, which will house the children for two years – they will then transfer to the main secondary school.

Is that what you want? If not, please make your voice heard.

You have an opportunity to give your opinion during the consultation period and meetings will be held at all schools in the partnership during January and February.

As a parent you will have received a letter from Northumberland County Council explaining the consultation process, dates of meetings being held in each school of the partnership and how you can respond and express your opinions.

If you would like more information, please contact me directly on carol_fawcus@yahoo.com