SCHOOL: Closure could destroy village

The working class people of north Northumberland are under attack and we need your help.

Our local town of Alnwick is undergoing a massive shake-up of the school system, and it looks likely that our middle schools will be closed – similar to the change that was introduced in Cramlington and will also be happening in Ashington this September.

As part of this re-structure, our fantastic village first school in Embleton has been singled out for closure, and the council wants to transport our children miles away to other schools, at the taxpayers’ expense.

Some readers may think that rural villages in north Northumberland are populated by rich farmers, driving around the countryside in their Range Rovers. This is certainly not the case in Embleton.

My village is a working class village, with a low-income population who work predominantly on minimum wage in local tourist businesses. We are the barmaids, waiters, kitchen porters and housekeepers that keep the local economy of north Northumberland alive.

Because of our working families, Embleton is also one of the last surviving villages along the coast that actually has a living, functioning community, and our school is at the heart of this.

Families, attracted to Embleton by the school, help sustain shops, a post office, garage, doctor’s surgery, pubs, a hotel, golf club, football and cricket teams, community hall and many active clubs.

We have watched in despair as local families in neighbouring villages have been priced out of their homes by rich pensioners and second home owners.

Though lovely to look at, these dying villages have lost their schools, then their families, then everything else that kept their community alive. These sad places are awash with retirement and holiday homes, and feel as if they’ve had the very soul sucked out of them.

I grew up in County Durham in the early 1980s. I watched Thatcher smash through the unions, the miners, the shipyards, the steel works. I saw the devastating impact that a powerful force, determined to destroy our working communities, could have, all in the name of progress.

And here I am now, watching Northumberland County Council’s education board destroy the cornerstone of my children’s community, the last sustainable village between Seahouses and Alnwick, and of course, it’s all in the name of ‘progress’.

I understand that money is tight and that some small schools might not be viable in today’s world. However, Embleton school is financially and educationally viable as a primary school and pupil numbers are actually growing.

Embleton school provides a lifeline for low-income families to educate their children in the context of their own community, where those who can’t afford a car can walk their children to school, go to work and participate in village life.

In the Ashington area, Northumberland County Council has been sensitive to these issues and has kept small village schools open – one with less than 30 pupils on its roll and two alternative schools at Ellington and Pegswood within a five-mile radius.

Embleton is simply asking for the same consideration.

We are reaching out to readers for support. Please join our Facebook page and sign our e-petition to urge members of Northumberland County Council to give the working class people of Embleton a chance to save our school, our village and our community.

M Townsend,

Embleton,

Facebook: Save Embleton First School

Email: saveembletonschool@outlook.com