‘Many concerns have not been addressed’, says Lib Dem

Liberal Democrat campaigner Julie P�rksen
Liberal Democrat campaigner Julie P�rksen

Lib Dem campaigner Julie Pörksen has criticised plans for reorganising schools in the Alnwick Partnership, which ‘will not benefit all children, especially those in rural areas’.

As reported by the Gazette last Thursday, a switch to a two-tier system of primary and secondary schools looks set to take place in Alnwick and the surrounding area, meaning the closure of four middle schools. The issues are to be debated by Northumberland County Council on Thursday.

Julie said: “In responding to the consultation, neither the public nor schools gave overwhelming support for a change to two-tier.

“Many concerns have not been addressed including the support required to provide the specialist teaching for Years 5 and 6 in subjects such as languages, science and music, the viability of schools on the margins of the catchment area and the future of local communities where school closures are planned.

“I believe any reorganisation must only take place if it has a clear benefit to children across the partnership and this must include those in our most rural areas.

“Reorganisation will be a costly process in terms of capital expenditure and human resources from schools and County Hall, as well as extremely disruptive to children, teachers and parents.

“If the county council do choose to change to two-tier, I hope they will guarantee the support required to minimise disruption and support quality education across the partnership.”

Following the publication of the report last week, Daljit Lally, executive director at Northumberland County Council, said: “As national education policy continues to devolve more powers to schools and academies, there is a real risk that individual schools within the partnership could take unilateral action to change their own structures which would have an unintended destabilising effect on other schools in the area.

“These proposals are made so that we can ensure the longer-term sustainability of our schools and secure better outcomes for all children.”