Crunch meeting to decide future of Berwick area school system

Parents in the Berwick area could be consulted on a change to a two-tier education system – if plans to do so are approved by Northumberland County Council’s cabinet.

By James Robinson
Friday, 8th April 2022, 10:25 am
Updated Friday, 8th April 2022, 10:48 am

At this week’s meeting of the council’s Family and Children’s Services Overview and Scrutiny Committee, members were told that the Berwick partnership of schools is facing significant challenges in terms of sustainability.

Berwick Academy – the area’s high school – was judged as “requires improvement” by Ofsted in November, having previously been judged inadequate, while it is anticipated that there will be 128 free places across the partnership in reception year alone by 2025.

A number of options have been put forward to schools, but the only one supported by a majority of schools were a change to a two-tier system, doing away with the areas middle schools. Nine schools were in support of the option, while four were against and three were undecided.

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The future of the education system in the Berwick area is to be discussed by county councillors on Tuesday.

It comes as the council plans to invest millions of pounds to improve education in the area.

Cath McEvoy-Carr, the council’s director of adult and children’s services, said: “There is a significant amount of investment planned for the Berwick Partnership, with a significant amount of work undertaken.

“This is not a local authority-led process, that we are saying this is the system we want to achieve. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to influence the Berwick education system, not just in Berwick but in the surrounding areas.

“The reason it’s been carefully considered is because we want to make sure we fully understand our children, our parents and our carers and what they really want.

“We’re never going to get a homogeneous idea but this is an opportunity to take a careful, considered approach.”

The report will be presented to the council’s cabinet on Tuesday, before parents are consulted on the plans.