Amble merger set to be approved next week

James Calvert Spence College building in Acklington Road, Amble.
James Calvert Spence College building in Acklington Road, Amble.

Proposals to merge Amble’s high and middle school into one, boosting links and cutting bureaucracy, look set to be approved by councillors.

A report detailing the outcome of a consultation goes before Northumberland county councillors at the family and children’s services scrutiny committee on Monday and then the decision-making cabinet on Wednesday.

Last summer, a hard federation – the James Calvert Spence College (JCSC) Federation – was formed under one governing body, consisting of JCSC Acklington Road, which is the high-school site, JCSC South Avenue, which is the middle-school site, and Acklington CofE First School.

In December, we reported that a consultation had been launched as the governing body wants to merge the middle and high schools, which would require the formal closure of JCSC South Avenue on May 31 this year and the extension of the age range at JCSC Acklington Road so that it caters for nine to 18-year-olds.

However, the merger would be unlikely to impact the day-to-day running of the school as nine to 13-year-olds would continue to be educated at the South Avenue site.

As it involves a school closure, a decision by the cabinet next week to go ahead with the governors’ proposals would spark a four-week statutory consultation prior to final approval.

Just five people responded to the consultation with three being in favour and two against, however, one of the arguments against was that a more drastic change should take place – to a two-tier system of primary and secondary schools within the Coquet Partnership.

The report states: ‘Given the low response rate to the consultation, it could be construed that the overwhelming majority of consultees are comfortable with the proposal of the governing body’.

l Elsewhere in the county, it was announced this week that a consultation on a switch to a two-tier structure of schools in the Ponteland Partnership is likely to take place. It follows a request from six first schools in the partnership, backed by the high school, and the consultation is also due to be approved at next week’s cabinet meeting.