Village school can be part of two-tier set-up

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Parents fighting to save the village school in Embleton have underlined that they are not opposed to a switch to a two-tier system.

Earlier this month, we reported that councillors from different political parties in Alnwick are united in backing an 11-to-18 secondary school in the town, saying it is the best option for the future of education.

County councillors Gordon Castle and Heather Cairns, alongside Mayor of Alnwick Bill Grisdale, are all keen that with funding being available, the opportunity to expand the new high school to cater for Years 7 to 13 does not fall by the wayside.

It comes as Northumberland County Council has launched further consultation on the preferred option of primary and secondary schools in the Alnwick Partnership, which would mean the closure of four middle schools and two first schools, including Embleton Vincent Edwards.

The authority has already identified a total of £9.4million for the necessary changes to the schools if the preferred option went ahead, including £6million to modify the new build of the Duchess’s Community High School.

The Alnwick councillors’ plea came due to fears that vocal opposition to the preferred option, primarily from the more rural, outlying areas of the Alnwick Partnership, could impact on the plans to expand the new high school.

But those fighting to save the school in Embleton have emphasised that their battle does not mean they are opposed to a switch to a two-tier system, merely that they feel that Vincent Edwards can convert to a primary school and stay open.

Victoria Fyffe, from the Save Embleton School Parent Group, said: “It is fair to say that the parents of Embleton school were concerned about the impact that a two-tier system would have upon children in smaller rural schools.

“Indeed, if you look at the original consultation responses on the county council website, there were a significant number of schools in the partnership who had these concerns, along with deep reservations about the education board’s management of the consultation.

“One of my major worries about the county council’s model B (for a two-tier system) was the shambolic plan to house Year 7 and 8 children on the Lindisfarne site.

“Indeed my letter about the initial proposal said ‘frankly, I could understand the logic of a two-tier structure, if the newly-built high school had been planned to offer excellent facilities for all children from Year 7 onwards...if my children could then go on to a state-of-the-art, purpose-built secondary school that would provide them with first-class facilities when they got there’.

“It now seems likely that a two-tier system will prevail throughout the Alnwick area.

“Embleton school, under new headship and working in partnership with other local schools, is putting together a strong case to demonstrate that it is capable of providing a broad and balanced curriculum for its students, as a primary school in the proposed two-tier system. The community of Embleton school is not opposed in any way to a new larger high school in Alnwick.”

Read and respond to the consultation, until October 22, at