Consultation starts on plans to merge two Northumberland schools

Education chiefs must be “very confident” a village can cope with a sudden influx of pupils before school merger plans can be approved.

By James Harrison
Wednesday, 13th October 2021, 11:24 am
Updated Wednesday, 13th October 2021, 11:26 am
Seaton Sluice Middle School could be merged with Whytrig Middle School if proposals being drawn up go ahead.
Seaton Sluice Middle School could be merged with Whytrig Middle School if proposals being drawn up go ahead.

Bosses at Northumberland County Council have given the green light for a six-week consultation to start on proposals to join Whytrig Middle School with Seaton Sluice Middle School on a single site.

And while Seaton Delaval looks likely to be the home of the revamped institution, draft proposals have included the possibility of a new site being found, if needed.

“I think what sometimes gets overlooked is that Seaton Delaval is a village, it’s not a town,” Paul Scott, county councillor for Seghill with Seaton Delaval, told the council.

“I think we have to be very confident moving forward that if the merger does go ahead, whether the infrastructure is in place in Seaton Delaval to cope with additional student numbers in the village.

“But overall I think it’s a very positive development and I do welcome it.”

According to a report for councillors, education bosses have identified “a number of significant educational and financial benefits” for pupils if they use a single site for Whytrig Middle School, Seaton Sluice Middle School and Astley High School.

Currently, Whytrig Middle School is based on the same site as Astley High School, in Seaton Delaval. All three are run by the Seaton Valley Federation.

Brains behind the scheme hope it would mean Seaton Sluice pupils can access a “modern educational environment” and smooth the move from middle to high school.

But they have also not ruled out the option of shifting the middle schools to an “alternative site, should one be identified”.

A consultation started on October 13, and will run until Wednesday, December 1.

Coun Scott added: “[The county council has] committed over £30m to be spent on new schools in Seaton Valley and are keen to make a start on the re-provision of Whytrig Middle School and Astley High School.

“Before that happens, the [schools’] governing body has requested this consultation about whether Seaton Sluice Middle School should remain open, or close and merge with a rebuilt Whytrig Middle School in Seaton Delaval.

“Once that has been established, the much needed investment in schools in Seaton Valley will get underway, and I encourage all residents across the area to give their views.”