THE final bell has rung at a north Northumberland village school which has closed its doors to pupils for the last time.
An emotional full school assembly helped mark the final chapter of James Calvert Spence College (JCSC) – Hadston Road, formerly Druridge Bay Middle School, on Tuesday – the students’ final day.
Each year-group at the school took part in the ceremony, which was attended by governors, parents and local councillors, and included the youngsters performing poems, songs and dances.
Christine Graham, executive headteacher for the Coquet Federation, said: “It was a very poignant and positive assembly. There were some tears but also a lot of laughter and it ended on a really positive note.”
A decline in student numbers at the school, as well as at JCSC – South Avenue, formerly Amble Middle School, forced the governing body of the Coquet Federation to propose the closure of the Hadston Road site and merge its pupils with the South Avenue school.
Governors said it was the most effective way to provide the best education and increase resources for pupils as well as securing secondary education within the Coquet Partnership.
The plan was controversial, fuelling objections on a number of grounds, but the death knell for the school was sounded earlier this year when Northumberland County Council’s Executive formally agreed to shut the doors of the Hadston Road site and go through with the amalgamation.
In a speech during Tuesday’s assembly, Nick Snelling, community governor for the Coquet Federation, said that the decision to close the school was ‘unpleasant’ but the governors are ‘confident’ that it is the correct decision and look forward to a successful future for the students attending JCSC.
To mark the closure, all of the pupils received a leavers’ T-shirt and a whole school leavers’ photograph.
A time capsule containing precious school mementos and memorabilia has also been complied and will be taken to the South Avenue site, while memorabilia that is uncovered over the process of packing up and dismantling is being collected and will be given to Ashington’s Woodhorn Museum to store or display in the archives section.
In the build up to the closure, the staff and students enjoyed a variety of end of school activities including a selection of transition days at the South Avenue site and some engineering events which are said to have been successful and enjoyable and helped prepare the students for the changes.
In addition, all of the school and staff spent a day at Light Water Valley.
East Chevington Parish Council chairman Coun Scott Dickinson, who attended the assembly, admitted it was an emotional day.
He said: “It was a very sad and uncertain day for the community as we have lost a monumental facility and building from within our community without any knowledge about what will happen next to the site, but for the staff and students this must be looked upon as an exciting opportunity and I hope they can all look to the future without too much sadness and make the most of every opportunity they are offered in the future.”
Coun Dickinson, himself a former student, praised all the staff who have ever served at the school and said they had played a valued part in the community.
Coun Glen Sanderson, ward member for Chevington with Longhorsley, said it was a sad day and added: “Hopefully this is the beginning of a new chapter.”
The school building is set to be demolished and at the end of July 29 the school will close and be handed over to the demolition contractor.