‘We need to stand up and fight to save our school’

Glendale Community Middle School meeting.
Glendale Community Middle School meeting.

Community feeling was clear as hundreds turned out last week for a meeting on the future of a north Northumberland middle school.

As reported in the Gazette last month, Glendale Community Middle School in Wooler is set to lose £120,000, or 16 per cent from its budget under new Government funding rules.

And while the drop is limited to 1.5 per cent for the next two years, after that is uncertain, jobs are at risk and the school could close within five years.

Headteacher Ruth Bull said: “If we sit here and wait until the third year, it will be too late to take action.”

The changes, which mean that money is allocated more on a per-pupil basis, affect all schools, but are particularly hard on rural middle schools, which tend to have older buildings that are now too large.

Mrs Bull said: “All of us are in a huge dilemma. Are all the schools going to close or are we going to fight to keep them open?”

She explained that when she joined the school eight years ago, there were 180 pupils, today it’s 134 and by 2015, it’s likely to be 116. To make up the funding shortfall, the school would need an extra 28 pupils now.

Mrs Bull also made reference to some of the other funding criteria, saying on results: “The better you are, the less money you get.

“And we live, according to the Government, in a very, very affluent area so we get no money in that particular section.”

A working party is to be set up to discuss and look into different ideas to protect the future of the school. A petition is also to be launched.

County councillor Anthony Murray, who is also vice-chairman of governors, said: “If this school were to go, then we will have lost something we will never be able to replace as a community asset.

“We have got to make them realise that we mean it, for the good of ourselves and the generations to come.

“We are rural people, but we are people who want to have the same educational opportunites aseveryone else.”

He also said that it would be wrong for children of nine to have to travel to Alnwick or Berwick.