Village school chalks up building milestone

Jimmy Givens, thought to be the oldest surviving Branton pupil, with the youngest, Jamie Oates, who is three, but was two when the picture was taken.
Jimmy Givens, thought to be the oldest surviving Branton pupil, with the youngest, Jamie Oates, who is three, but was two when the picture was taken.

An under-threat school which has been earmarked for closure has celebrated the 90th anniversary of the opening of its current building.

Branton Community First School could shut its doors for the last time in summer 2017, as part of proposals for the reorganisation of schools under the Alnwick Partnership. Consultation on the plans is running until October 22.

Branton children at the 1920s-stlye tea party.

Branton children at the 1920s-stlye tea party.

Closure would bring an end to a school which has been part of the community since the 1800s and on Monday marked nine decades of being in its current building – which was officially opened on land leased from the Presbyterian church on August 24, 1925.

To celebrate the milestone, the school held a 1920s-style tea dance in Ingram Hall last month.

Members of the local community were invited along and the children dressed in clothes from the period and learnt some steps from the Lindy hop.

Headteacher Zoë Ryan said that it was a lovely occasion and stressed the importatance of keeping a school at Branton.

Branton children outside the current building.

Branton children outside the current building.

“Branton is a community school in every sense of the word,” she said.

“It is key to our rural community and offers opportunities for social gatherings.

“Branton children also take an active part in the rural events, entering the local shows at Powburn, Ingram, and Glanton, promoting their heritage within rural north Northumberland.

“The school embraces the rural way of life and enables pupils to experience farming and agriculture, encouraging some pupils to consider jobs in their rural community in the future, while others have progressed to a variety of successful careers, still maintaining their links in the rural community.

Pupils at the school in the early 1900s.

Pupils at the school in the early 1900s.

“The school also continues to benefit from its strong links with the Northumberland National Park.”

She said the school has 16 children on its roll for the upcoming academic year, plus a further 10 at The Breamish Valley Community Nursery, which runs at the school site.