Draft plans drawn up to merge two Northumberland schools

Education bosses for Northumberland are working on plans to merge two Northumberland schools.

Friday, 8th October 2021, 2:27 pm
Seaton Sluice Middle School could be merged with Whytrig Middle School if proposals being drawn up go ahead.

Under the proposals being drawn up by local authority chiefs, Seaton Sluice Middle School and Whytrig Middle School would be joined together.

And if the draft scheme is given the green light, as expected, consultation with parents, staff and pupils could begin within days.

“The reason for the request has arisen in light of the capital projects that we are undertaking to provide new buildings for Astley and Whytrig,” said Sue Aviston, head of school organisation and resources at Northumberland County Council.

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“These two schools already are co-located on the high school site that is based in Seaton Delaval.

“Although the initial project was limited to the provision of new buildings for Astley and Whytrigg, in the course of planning the projects over the last 12-18 months, the governing body has identified a number of significant educational and financial benefits for all students that would result in the co-location of all three schools.”

Both schools are operated by the Seaton Valley Federation, which also runs Astley Community High School.

According to a report by the council’s education team, options being considered include housing the amalgamated school on the high school site, in Seaton Delaval, where Whytrig Middle School is already based.

But the possibility has also been raised of a move for both to an “alternative site, should one be identified”.

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.

Special needs pupils could also benefit, while improved sports facilities would also be on offer for youngsters making the move, with a swimming pool also mooted by governors.

Speaking at the county council’s Family and Children’s Services Overview and Scrutiny Committee, Coun Mark Swinburn said: “I think it’s prudent to point out that, in the past, the authority has been pointed at – and I’m choosing my words carefully – for making and forcing decisions on schools.

“This isn’t an authority decision, this hasn’t come from the council, this is coming from the [school’s] governing body itself.”