Key meetings on future of education in Northumberland in June

The Duke's Middle School in Alnwick could be amalgamated with Lindisfarne Middle School.
The Duke's Middle School in Alnwick could be amalgamated with Lindisfarne Middle School.
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Responses to the consultation on the reorganisation of schools in the Alnwick Partnership are now being carefully considered by councillors, officers and school governing bodies before any decisions are made.

The three proposals consulted on were to amalgamate The Duke’s and Lindisfarne Middle Schools on the Lindisfarne site; to reorganise the whole of the Alnwick Partnership to a primary and secondary structure; or to make no changes.

The Alnwick Partnership comprises 18 schools. Eight of these are church schools and decisions regarding these are made by their own governing bodies. The remaining ten schools are community schools and decisions regarding these schools are made by the local authority.

The outcomes of the consultation and recommendations are to be taken to the county council’s family and children’s services overview and scrutiny committee on Thursday, June 4. This is a cross-party committee that will take a thorough look at the recommendations, cross-examine the reasoning behind them and then make its own recommendations to the policy board on whether to support, refute or make changes to the recommendations.

The recommendations will then go before the council’s policy board which is due to convene in early June. The policy board could decide that one of the three proposals is their preferred option or they could decide that further consultation is required.

If the policy board decides that either the amalgamation of The Duke’s and Lindisfarne Middle Schools or the reorganisation of the whole partnership to primary and secondary is the preferred option, then there would be a further four weeks’ statutory consultation period. If the policy board opts not to change the organisation of the schools in the partnership, then the process would end at this stage.

Consultation was originally undertaken as the majority of schools in the Alnwick Partnership believed it would be a good idea to have a proper discussion with parents, pupils, governors and the wider community on the issues around the structure of schools.

Andy Johnson, director of education at Northumberland County Council, said: “There has been a tremendous response to the consultation with wide and varying views, which demonstrates that this is a debate that needed to take place within the partnership. Now the council and the governing bodies will carefully analyse the responses and council officers will carry out a robust costing exercise on the options both consulted upon and on the alternative options brought forward during the consultation period.”

In addition, a petitions committee is to be organised to consider the petition submitted by a Seahouses Middle School parent group. This will take place ahead of the policy board meeting.

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