Consultation starts on future of Berwick's schools

Northumberland County Council’s plans include a new home for Berwick Academy.Northumberland County Council’s plans include a new home for Berwick Academy.
Northumberland County Council’s plans include a new home for Berwick Academy.
A public consultation is underway on the future model of schools in Berwick, including the potential to switch to a two-tier education system.

Northumberland County Council has allocated almost £40million of funding from its budget for capital schemes to improve school buildings and facilities in the Berwick Partnership, including a new home for Berwick Academy.

But, as mentioned in the introduction to the consultation document, before any detailed proposals are made ‘the views of parents, staff, governors, pupils, the wider public and anyone with an interest in education in the Berwick Partnership area need to be gathered on the general principle of whether schools should be organised within the current three-tier structure or within the two-tier structure’.

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People can now have their say at as this period started on Monday and will run until August 12. The document includes looking at the advantages and disadvantages of both structures from different sources.

Coun Guy Renner-Thompson, cabinet member for children’s services, said: “This is a once in a generation investment in education in the Berwick Partnership and we need to make sure we get it right so that we have a sustainable education system that delivers the best outcomes for our young people.

“We hope that as many people as possible will share their views to help shape the plans so we can create a shared vision for the future.”

Public drop-in events will take place at Bell View Resource Centre, 33 West Street, Belford, on Wednesday, July 13 from 5.30pm to 7pm, and at Berwick Community Trust, The William Elder Building, Castlegate, on Saturday, July 16 between 10am and 3pm.

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Audrey Kingham, interim director for children’s services, said: “We’ve put together this consultation document as it’s really important that everyone has the information that they need to be able to form their views before responding to this consultation.

“This is not a referendum and any decision about the structure of schools will be based on the quality of the educational rationale, not on the number of responses for one structure or another.

“School representatives and council officers will be available to answer questions at the public events.”