Fight against merged Alnwick schools continues

Parents and pupils of the Dukes Middle School against the merger of the two schools
Parents and pupils of the Dukes Middle School against the merger of the two schools

Parents fighting against the merging of two Alnwick schools are pleased that it now looks unlikely to happen this September.

However, those opposed to the amalgamation of Lindisfarne and the Duke’s Middle Schools on the Lindisfarne site have vowed to fight on to avoid the move at all.

The merger is one of the options in the consultation on the future structure of schools in the Alnwick Partnership.

As reported in the Gazette earlier this month, the governors of the two schools have said that they could support a single, separate consultation on a detailed proposal for a merged middle school for September 2016, subject to the council providing more detailed information, but not for this year.

Plus Northumberland County Council’s policy-board member responsible for children’s services, Robert Arckless, said that due to the amount of information to process from the consultation, the timescale may need to change anyway.

The Dukes School Action Group is pleased that the Aln Federation’s governing body has agreed not to support the proposed merger of the Duke’s and Lindisfarne Middle Schools on September 1, 2015.

In a statement, they said: “We have worked to try to convince the Federation governing body and Northumberland County Council that closing the Duke’s Middle School is a backward step and removes a good school from parents’ choice in the Alnwick area.

“Now that the Federation governing body has agreed not to support closure in 2015, we hope that the county council listens to them and the many parents and pupils that want to keep the school open.”

Below are letters from current pupils at the Duke’s Middle School, who don’t want to see their school change either.

I love being at Duke’s, I feel very safe and part of one large family.

Duke’s is the building, the teachers

and the pupils so if we merge with ­Lindisfarne, it simply wouldn’t be Duke’s anymore.

I’m very concerned about what might happen to us.

Dear Madame or Sir,

I love the Duke’s because the teachers are great!

I feel happy and cared about and I’m proud of my school.

We do lots of fun different things.

The school is very old and has lots of history which makes me feel privileged to go there.

Dear Sir/Madam,

I am writing about the closure of the Duke’s Middle School. I have many ­reasons why it should not close.

Our school is a very good school and our community is good. We have lots of ­history in this school. I am very happy here and I don’t know the reason and I don’t know why we should move.

I know that it is expensive to run the schools, but our school shouldn’t be ­sacrificed just to have the money to spend on other things. I feel very worried about this, I don’t want to move to a big school. I really want to stay the same. In my school there are many other children worried about the merger.

Dear Sir or Madam,

I am very concerned about what is happening at my school. Lots of things have been said about it and why people want us to move, but I am happy as I am. Please do not close the Duke’s Middle School, for I love it and I am attached to the building, pupils and teachers there.

When I was in Year 4, I was very unhappy at school. Making the transition to middle school was very complicated and it took a while to find the right school for me. I am at home at Duke’s and do not want to leave.

Now I’m in Year 6 and have settled in very well. The Aln Federation governors want us to move into Lindisfarne for September 2016, and I understand if model A goes ahead, you want it to happen sooner. If it happens in 2016, I will have to spend Year 8 in Lindisfarne and by the time I’ve settled in, I will be sent to high school. These are two very big changes which I would have to go through, therefore disrupting my education. Instead, if I stayed at Duke’s, I would only change once. This would make it much easier for pupils my age, and I am sure you would be happier knowing I feel comfortable going to the Duchess in Year 9.

Some people would like a two-tier system in Alnwick, to fit in with the rest of the country. However, currently the new high school building isn’t going to be big enough for that. I have heard some people want us to move then spend the first two years of secondary school on the Lindisfarne site. I disagree with this because having split sites would be confusing and strange.

If the only way to organise the schools is to have a two-tier system, please will you change it straight away, instead of moving us to Lindisfarne first? This will decrease the amount of changes I have to go through. My education will be less disrupted this way and you will achieve your goal of making the Aln Federation two-tier.

I hope you consider my opinion and try to make this process as simple as possible for me and my younger brother. I would prefer model C, but if you sort out everything properly then I may be prepared to go two-tier. Thank you for reading this letter and letting me be a part of the consultation process.