VIDEO: Parents launch fight to save Belford school

Parents, pupils and grandparents have staged a protest against the potential closure of St Mary’s CE Middle School in Belford.

A 35-strong group gathered outside the school gates on Tuesday afternoon as staff and governors met to discuss the future of the school.

Among them was parent Donna-Marie Perry who said it was an opportunity to show the strength of feeling on the issue.

“I can’t even begin to convey my anger and frustration at this,” she said.

A campaign group, Save Belford Middle School, has been formed and is looking at ways to save the school.

“We have a few key points,” said Mrs Perry. “Firstly, we think the figures they’ve given us on forecast pupil numbers next year aren’t entirely accurate.

“We also doubt whether Glendale Middle would have the capacity to take pupils from here, plus there’s the difficulty of getting there in the winter.

“Also, this is the only Church of England school in our area.”

Another option which campaigners want to see examined is an amalgamation with Belford First School.

They are holding a strategy meeting in the Blue Bell tonight at 7.15pm to discuss their next steps.

Last week, governors launched a consultation on the future of the school, with options including its possible closure at the end of August, as a result of falling pupil numbers and concerns about its ability to deliver a broad and balanced curriculum.

Pupil numbers are predicted to fall from 98 to 67.

The Regional Schools Commission (RSC) also raised concerns about academic outcomes at the school.

Paul Rickeard, director of education for the Diocese of Newcastle, said: “The governors of St Mary’s School are facing some very difficult decisions but both the church and the local authority respect their commitment to the children in their care, and will give them every possible support in making their choices for the future and implementing them for the benefit of the whole community.”

A spokesman for Northumberland County Council said: “Delivering the best possible educational environment for pupils is a priority for the county council and we will do all we can to work with and support all the bodies involved moving forward. We realise that current funding arrangements are making it increasingly difficult for small schools to survive and provide the breadth of curriculum that organisations such as Ofsted and the RSC require. The council will continue to do all it can to support governing bodies to help them provide educational excellence.”