Berwick schools set to join forces in move that would 'lead to being able to spend more funding on the children'

A revolution in education looks set to be on the cards for Berwick, as three schools plan to come together and “join a multi-academy trust”.

By Andrew Coulson
Thursday, 9th September 2021, 12:18 pm
Updated Friday, 10th September 2021, 1:49 pm
Coun Georgina Hill.
Coun Georgina Hill.

The move by The Three Bridges Federation (Berwick Middle School and Tweedmouth Middle School) and Berwick Academy has been welcomed by a Berwick councillor, who believes it “marks major progress” towards a potential £40million shared campus in the town.

A motion by Coun Georgina Hill (Berwick East) to bring the plans for the campus forward and increase the proposed school redevelopment budget from £19.8million to £40million was approved at a full meeting of Northumberland County Council in February.

And this week a statement was issued by Clare Shaw, The Three Bridges Federation’s chairwoman of governors, suggesting exciting new changes lie ahead.

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She said: “Given the proximity of Tweedmouth and Berwick Middle Schools to Berwick Academy, conversations have long been ongoing between the head teachers and governors of those schools, focusing on how opportunities for students in the Berwick catchment area might be improved.

“The allocation of this [£40million] funding has provided the stimulus for the middle schools to move forward with their vision.

“Having reviewed several options, The Three Bridges Federation, which provides governance and oversight to both middle schools, has agreed to investigate joining a multi-academy trust.

“Berwick Academy has also agreed to partner with the middle schools in this activity.

“It is believed that this approach will allow all three schools to benefit from cost savings with suppliers, which will allow them to spend more of their funding on the children, allow the schools to deliver a curriculum that meets the particular challenges of the area and provide additional opportunities using some of the technology improvements identified during the recent Covid-19 pandemic.

“The Three Bridges Federation considers this as an extremely positive move and looks forward to sharing further information in due course.”

Reacting to the announcement, Coun Hill said: “The fact that the three schools have come together in this way is excellent news and marks major progress as we move to make this £40million shared campus a reality.

“This is the catalyst – not just to allow our children and young people to learn in an environment with first-class, modern facilities but also to drive up standards and stimulate the significant, all-round educational improvements required with the support of a high-performing trust.”

A county council spokesman said: “We understand Berwick Middle School and Tweedmouth Middle School are looking into their options, including the option to become an academy.

“As part of our on-going discussions with the schools in the Berwick partnership, we will be holding a public consultation in which all viable options will be considered.

“We are keen to progress with investment to improve the offer, but we must ensure plans going forward will provide a long-term, fit-for-purpose education model and buildings that will meet the needs of children in the area.”