Final bell set to ring in July

Pupils at St Mary's CofE Middle School in Belford.
Pupils at St Mary's CofE Middle School in Belford.

The final bell is set to ring this summer at the middle school in Belford, with councillors expected to agree to the 
closure next Thursday.

It means that Belford First School will change from an age-two-to-nine first school to an age-two-to-11 primary for the next academic year.

Northumberland County Council’s decision-making cabinet unanimously agreed in December that the proposals should go ahead, sparking a statutory consultation.

This has now concluded and the cabinet meets again next Thursday when it is recommended that it gives the final approval to the changes, spelling the end for St Mary’s CofE Middle School.

Last September, councillors had agreed to support an informal consultation on the closure of St Mary’s this summer and the addition of Years 5 and 6 to Belford First School from September.

Original, standalone proposals to close St Mary’s last summer, sparked by a fall in pupil numbers placing the school ‘beyond financial viability’ were put on hold after pleas from the community for more time to consider options for the future.

Given this reprieve, as Andy Johnson, the interim director of children’s services, said at the December meeting, ‘there is a high degree of agreement among the community in Belford, including the governing bodies of both schools and the Diocese, about the need to permit the publication of the statutory proposal’.

One of the key concerns is that Belford pupils would still feed into the Berwick system at 11, with some calling for children to go directly to the secondary school in Alnwick.