Less than two weeks remain for consultation on what could lead to a major change to the schools system in north Northumberland.
At the end of last year, Northumberland County Council published proposals for the restructuring of schools in the area, following requests from the Alnwick Partnership, which is made up of 10 community schools with an added eight church-funded schools as voluntary members.
Meetings with governors, staff, and parents and the public have been held at each of the 18 schools, ending on Tuesday night at the Duchess’s Community High School in Alnwick.
The county council’s report sets out three models for the future – although others can be put forward – with one being no change to the current arrangement.
Another would see the amalgamation of the Duke’s and Lindisfarne Middle Schools on the Lindisfarne site from September, following the closure of Lindisfarne Middle School in August.
The most radical would see a shift to a two-tier system of primary and secondary schools, meaning the closure of the middle schools.
However, if this two-tier option was brought in, the new high school at Greensfield would still only house students from Year 9 upwards with Year 7 and 8 pupils still based at the Lindisfarne site.
One of the issues raised so far is that the new high school was designed to abolish the current, unsatisfactory split-site situation, but the third option would render this and a switch to two-tier pointless.
Duchess’s Community High School headteacher Maurice Hall has said that the Government’s desire to be seen to be saving money meant the maximum capacity of the new school will be 1,115 pupils. Any money to expand the new school would therefore not come from national government, he said.
When the county council’s policy board approved the consultation in December last year, an amendment was made to include the schools in Belford and Wooler, despite them officially being members of the Berwick Partnership.
This followed concerns raised by the respective ward councillors, John Woodman and Anthony Murray, who pointed out that a large proportion of children from the middle schools in both communities go to Alnwick for high school, not Berwick, and that therefore any changes ‘would have a substantial knock-on impact’.
A public meeting takes place at Glendale Middle School, Wooler, tonight at 7pm to discuss the reorganisation of the Alnwick Partnership.