Amble parents to be consulted on potential shake-up of the area's schools

Parents in Amble are the latest to be consulted on possible wholesale changes to the organisation of schools in the area.

By James Robinson
Tuesday, 10th May 2022, 4:07 pm
Updated Tuesday, 10th May 2022, 4:47 pm

It follows on from similar consultations in Berwick which are ongoing, while views have previously been sought in Hexham and Seaton Valley.

At a meeting of Northumberland County Council’s cabinet, members approved plans to consult with parents ahead of a £25.5m investment in the Coquet partnership.

The council’s head of school organisation and resources, Sue Aviston, explained that meetings with the area’s schools had revealed four priorities identified for the improvement. They are:

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Parents are being given a say on how schools are organised in the Amble area.

The need to improve key stage two outcomes; Retain more pupils, particularly in the secondary years; Improve the special educational needs offer within the partnership, to meet pupils’ needs “as close to home as possible”; Invest in current building stock within the partnership.

The report presented to councillors explained that reorganising the partnership into a two-tier system had been discussed for some time, noting some staff felt it was “time for change”.

As a result, parents’ views will be sought via a six-week consultation which starts tomorrow (May 11) and runs until June 29.

Coun Guy Renner-Thompson, cabinet member for education, insisted that no schools would be closed regardless of the outcome and the area’s first schools would all have capacity to switch to a primary model.

James Calvert Spence College in Amble.

The partnership’s Amble Middle School merged with James Calvert Spencer High School in 2016 to become an age nine to 18 school – something unique for Northumberland.

The area’s ward councillor, Jeff Watson, welcomed the consultation and added it had been a long time coming.

He said: “There has never been an agreed plan to develop this partnership until we developed this plan. It was never agreed for all sorts of reasons.

“So much is happening in Amble. The population is going to go up enormously.

“I don’t care which way the public and schools want this to go, we will go the way the people want to go whether it is two or three tier. Hopefully we will have a plan that everybody can live with and have proper facilities for our kids in the Amble area, which has suffered for the last few years.”