Could rural areas cling to three-tier education?

Claire Wood, Immy Wood, Charlie Wood and Anne Bell at 10 Dowing Street with the petition to save Branton Community First School.
Claire Wood, Immy Wood, Charlie Wood and Anne Bell at 10 Dowing Street with the petition to save Branton Community First School.

Last-gasp efforts are being made to put forward a viable ‘mixed-economy’ model for schools in Alnwick and the surrounding area.

This is despite the consultation on the reorganisation of the Alnwick Partnership ending two weeks from today and an initial decision on the outcomes due in early November.

Embleton Vincent Edwards CE First School. Picture by Jane Coltman

Embleton Vincent Edwards CE First School. Picture by Jane Coltman

This second period of consultation has been around a two-tier system of primary and secondary schools.

It has been most vehemently opposed by Seahouses Middle School and the first schools at Embleton and Branton, which are both earmarked for closure.

A mixed economy would see the schools in and around Alnwick convert to a primary and secondary school set-up, while the more rural areas would keep their first and middle schools.

Embleton has now decided it would like to become a primary school, but at a meeting at Branton on Tuesday night, the clear desire was to remain open as a first school. Seahouses hosts its meeting tonight.

Julie P�rksen

Julie P�rksen

Following strength of feeling shown at the Branton meeting, Lib Dem campaigner Julie Pörksen is contacting all of the rural schools to see if an alternative model can be developed in collaboration.

Julie said she was ‘extremely disappointed’ that the county council has not explored more solutions, although it has always said alternatives can be put forward.

“We have an opportunity to keep open our rural first and middle schools if places can be provided for Year 9 entry in Alnwick,” she continued. “I shall be working with schools to explore the option of ensuring places for rural pupils at Year 9 by proposing the new Year 7/8 facility is built with with a capacity limited to the numbers coming from the schools which would become primaries.”

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