Extra cash for Berwick schools as two-tier remains the plan for council after consultation

Plans for how more than £40million would be spent if an education shake-up in Berwick receives the green light have been revealed by Northumberland County Council.
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Berwick Academy, which is set to become a secondary school, is in line to receive the bulk of the proposed £41.177million allocation, which has increased from £39.9million.

A total of £5.777million of the allocation would be spent on supporting the changes for the first schools in the partnership to become primary schools from September 2025 and this is an rise for some of those schools.

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A report on the Outcomes of Statutory Consultation on Proposals for the Berwick Partnership to a meeting of the local authority’s cabinet next week (July 20) recommends that a two-tier system of primary and secondary schools – changing from the current three-tier system – is in the best educational interests of children and young people.

Berwick Academy.Berwick Academy.
Berwick Academy.

Also at the meeting, the cabinet will be asked to approve the allocation of £250,000 in order to develop an Outline Business Case for investment in Berwick Academy.

This can be progressed now as funding to improve the school is already in the council’s medium term plan no matter what happens with the reorganisation.

If the cabinet does approve the plans, Berwick Academy has been allocated £35.4million for a new build. This includes a specialist special educational needs (SEN) unit.

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Under the proposed model, Berwick Middle School, Glendale Middle School and Tweedmouth Community Middle School would close on August 31, 2026.

During an earlier consultation, the middle schools in Berwick proposed an alternative model where they would undergo a major restructure and merge to form a single middle school – it also suggested new buildings for the new single middle school, Berwick Academy and The Grove School.

However, this was rejected by the county council.

The allocations for the schools that would become primary schools are as follows: Wooler First School – Remodel existing building to create primary facilities, a community hub (£2.8million); Tweedmouth West First School – One classroom, one group room, a Medical Inspection room and additional WC provision (£1.038million); Holy Trinity Church of England First School – Extend main hall to ensure whole school assembly and remodel existing accommodation (£1million); St Mary’s Church of England First School – Internal reconfiguration to create dedicated SEN unit for ASD and SEMH primary pupils (£500,000); Scremerston First School – Potential small extension (£220,000); Norham First School – Small extension to increase capacity within early years/foundation stage classroom (£119,000); Spittal First School – Remodel existing staff accommodation to create intervention space (£50,000), Tweedmouth Prior Park First School – Add additional toilets to meet the increase in pupils (£30,000); Lowick Church of England First School – Replace infant toilets with height appropriate toilets for Years 5 and 6. Install a partition wall (£20,000).

In terms of investing in Berwick Academy, the report also states: ‘Cabinet should note that officers are in discussions with DfE (Department for Education) with regard to a contribution from the department towards the capital costs of the refurbishment/rebuilding of Berwick Academy.

‘These discussions/negotiations will form part of the development of the Outline Business Case and therefore it is unlikely to be confirmed within the current financial year.’