Governors favour village schools moving to one site

Belford County First School.
Belford County First School.

Concerned parents attended a meeting at Belford First School on Monday night at which the future of education in the village was up for discussion.

The meeting had been organised by school governors to talk about any immediate concerns parents might have as a result of budget cuts hitting rural schools.

However, possible alternative models of education, such as sharing the same site as the neighbouring St Mary’s Middle School, were also discussed.

Changes to funding will tie it more closely to pupil numbers, so governors have looked at three potential choices – cutting costs, keeping children until the age of 11 and sharing a building with the middle school.

In a letter to parents, Dr Saul Miller, chairman of governors, said: “We have already done most of the sensible things we can to cut costs. Our only way of saving big amounts of money would be to employ fewer staff and have bigger class sizes. The county council have advised us to take this option. However, we want to keep our excellent staff.

“Another option is to convert to academy status and then become a primary school, keeping Year 5 and 6 children. This would need negotiation with a local high school to make it a truly viable option. It would not be helpful to middle schools though.

“Option three – Belford schools sharing one building – would solve many of the problems related to being in buildings that have more space than is funded. It would also allow the schools to explore closer working and other cost savings.

“Of course, it would not be easy. Still, we think this is the best option for keeping five-13 education in the village.”