School-closure bid prompts call for ‘bigger picture’ consideration

The pupils at Acklington  C of E First School.
The pupils at Acklington C of E First School.

A concerned town councillor has called for Amble’s ‘bigger picture’ to be considered, amid proposals to close a school in a nearby village.

Last week, we reported that the governing body of the James Calvert Spence College (JCSC) Federation has started a consultation about shutting Acklington C of E First School at the end of December.

With only 13 students on the roll, falling pupil numbers has been blamed for the main reason. The children would be relocated to other first schools in the area.

And at last Thursday’s Amble Town Council meeting, Coun Helen Lewis urged county councillor Jeff Watson to make those at County Hall aware of Amble’s situation, as it faces proposals for more than 1,000 houses to be built.

She said: “We have heard a lot about all of the housing development which is planned and how the infrastructure won’t cope. I want you to make the county aware of the bigger picture for Amble. More housing equals more children.

“If Acklington closes, then that is already X number of places gone before you get to the bigger picture.”

Coun Watson responded by saying: “This is at the consultation stage, but I don’t believe the 13 children in Acklington would affect Amble, because there are other first schools in the area that they could go to.”

The other schools in the Federation are Amble’s middle school at South Avenue and the Acklington Road high school/sixth-form site. There are plans to merge the two at Acklington Road.

JCSC has 653 students from Years 5 to 11 and 84 in sixth-form. The maximum capacity is 840 in main school and no set limit in sixth form.

The school said it would welcome additional students that extra housing could bring, but wants the surrounding infrastructure and facilities to be able to cope with the additional housing. This includes traffic, bus routes and road access ‘which is already an issue for the school and the community.’