Open day at under-threat school ‘baffles’ objectors

Children at Acklington C of E First School fighting against the closure. Some of these pupils have since left the school.
Children at Acklington C of E First School fighting against the closure. Some of these pupils have since left the school.

Campaigners fighting the proposed closure of a village school are ‘baffled’ by an advert promoting an open day to recruit more children.

It comes just a few weeks after the governing body of James Calvert Spence College (JCSC) launched a statutory consultation period over its plans to shut the doors of Acklington C of E First School at the end of December.

This follows an initial consultation period earlier this year to gauge opinion on the suggested closure, which was sparked due to falling pupil numbers – 13 children were on the roll last year, but now there’s eight – and the impact this has on the education provided.

The governing body also says that the buildings are dilapidated and the mobile classrooms are beyond repair and would need replacing.

A final decision will be made by the county council’s cabinet in November.

The closure proposal sparked dismay within the community, with protestors launching a petition.

Yet, they were staggered to see an advert in last week’s Gazette promoting an open day at the school, to be held today from 2pm to 3.30pm – just a fortnight after the statutory consultation was published.

One campaigner, who did not want to be named, said: “The governors decided that the school should be closed and the final decision will be made by the county council.

“We have lost some pupils to other schools and now we only have eight children.

“So we’re baffled by the advert promoting an open day.

“Are they mad? Who is going to consider moving their child to the school when the proposal is that it closes in December? I can’t believe it. I’ve even had a text message saying ‘so you’re not closing now?’”

However, the school has defended the open day. A JCSC spokeswoman said that it is being held because the school is still open and it is ‘business as usual’ while the statutory consultation on the proposed closure continues. She added that closure is not a foregone conclusion and the cabinet may decide that the school should remain open.

She said that parents will be made aware at the open day that the school is at risk of closure at the end of December.

The statutory consultation closes at midnight on Thursday, October 5. Email comments or objections to Lorraine.Fife@northumber land.gov.uk