Next stage for Berwick partnership shake-up consultation approved by Northumberland County Council cabinet

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The next stage of public consultation on the future of schools in Berwick will get underway later this month after two alternative proposals were approved by Northumberland County Council’s cabinet.

The local authority has said that it will invest £40million in schools in the Berwick Partnership, but the school system needs to be sustainable in the long-term because of declining pupil numbers, surplus places and children leaving the partnership for neighbouring schools in Scotland and Alnwick.

Following what it says was an informal pre-consultation, it has put forward two detailed proposals based on both the current three-tier system and a two-tier system.

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As previously reported, under the proposed three-tier model Norham CE First and Scremerston First schools would close and have their catchments split between existing schools, while Glendale Middle School would also close.

Coun Guy Renner-Thompson, cabinet member with responsibility for children’s services.Coun Guy Renner-Thompson, cabinet member with responsibility for children’s services.
Coun Guy Renner-Thompson, cabinet member with responsibility for children’s services.

Under a two-tier model, Scremerston First and Glendale Middle schools would again close, along with Berwick and Tweedmouth Middle Schools.

Coun Guy Renner-Thompson, cabinet member with responsibility for children’s services, said: “Following the initial feedback, we’ve now put two detailed proposals together – one based on the two-tier system and one on the three-tier.

“With falling pupil numbers, we have to look at creating a sustainable school system that will work best for our young people and both proposals include some school closures.

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“This is a once-in-a-generation investment in education in the Berwick Partnership and we need to make sure we get it right so that it becomes a beacon of excellence long into the future.

“There will be an extensive consultation process that will give everyone the chance to look at the two options and have their say.”

A 15-week (school weeks) consultation will begin on October 31.

The outcomes of this will then be brought back to the cabinet at a later date, at which point cabinet may be requested to approve the publication of statutory proposals for consultation.

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Audrey Kingham, joint interim director of children’s services and director of education and skills, said: “Before committing to such investment in these schools, it’s important that the organisational structure within the Berwick Partnership is viable and sustainable in the medium to long-term, retaining pupils through all phases.

“Feedback from the consultation shows support for both the two and three-tier systems.

“This latest consultation sets out specific proposals for individual schools within both two-tier and three-tier structures.

“The next steps in the process will enable everyone involved to read the full report, ask lots of questions and have their voices heard on how we can secure the best education and outcomes for our children and young people.”

Reports and updates about this process are available at