Northumberland first school set to close this summer

Netherton First School. Picture by Jane Coltman
Netherton First School. Picture by Jane Coltman

The final bell is set to ring at a rural north Northumberland first school this summer.

At the same meetings at which a number of schools in the west of the county are set to avoid the axe, councillors are likely to move forward with the closure of Netherton Northside First School from the end of this academic year.

The governing body at the school, to the north-west of Rothbury, has proposed it should close this summer. It currently has just three pupils, set to become two in September, and there are three alternative schools nearby, two of which are within five miles.

In February, Northumberland County Council’s cabinet agreed to launch a consultation on the future of the school, which retained its good Ofsted rating last April, after councillors accepted there were not many options other than closure.

The consultation has now ended and a report to councillors concludes that ‘the governing body and the majority of respondents, including parents, while expressing regret at the proposal, have all supported the proposal to close the school as being in the best educational interests of the children’.

It adds that the cabinet should agree that there are no viable alternatives and move on to the next stage – the publication of a statutory proposal to close Netherton Northside First School from August 31.

This proposal will be discussed by the family and children’s services scrutiny committee next week and then the decision will be made by the cabinet at its meeting on Tuesday, May 8.

A statutory consultation would then run for four weeks with the final sign-off by the cabinet at its meeting on July 10, less than a fortnight before the end of term.

By Ben O'Connell, Local Democracy Reporting Service