Offer made to help school

Alan Kemp outside the Dovecote Centre in Amble.
Alan Kemp outside the Dovecote Centre in Amble.

An audacious offer to keep an under-threat school from closing has been made by a former headteacher.

The fate of Amble St Cuthbert’s RC First School hangs in the balance after the governing body last month published a statutory proposal to shut its doors at the end of August.

It follows a disastrous Ofsted report in October which placed the school in special measures and the final decision on its future rests with Northumberland County Council’s policy board on April 29.

Governors have said that they were left with two options; to go down the closure route or to make the school a sponsored academy.

Meanwhile, the Diocese of Hexham and Newcastle has stated that it does not have the money to support the school’s running costs and believed it would be impossible to find a sponsor, given the school’s position.

However, at a meeting with some of the parents on Friday, Alan Kemp, from the town, made a proposal to sponsor the school for six months – by way of becoming an associate headteacher for free.

Mr Kemp, a former headteacher at Gillford Centre Pupil Referral Unit, in Carlisle, said: “I have got sufficient money to sponsor the school for six months, by giving my wages up during that time. I would come in on an advisory role, but only if the diocese, parents and staff agreed.”

Currently, the school has 38 pupils, but by September next year that is set to drop to just over 20 in a school with a capacity of 120. This would impact on funding, which is based almost entirely on pupil numbers.

Concerned parent Rachel McGarvey organised a petition against the school closure, which collected 167 signatures in three days. Speaking at the county council’s petition’s committee last Thursday, she said that attainment had improved, with Ofsted’s Data Dashboard showing that for 2013, the school was in the top 20 per cent of all schools for maths and reading at key stage 1.

Ninety-four per cent of respondents to a pubic consultation were not in favour of closure.