Northumberland middle schools to close in £9.6m education shake-up

The Chronicle reports that four schools in Northumberland will close due to a major shake-up of education in Alnwick, after Northumberland County Council’s cabinet voted to replace the current three-tier system with two tiers.

Lindisfarne, The Duke’s, Seahouses and St Paul’s middle schools will shut, leading to the expansion of the county’s first schools to take children up to age 11. Campaigners had been fighting to keep Seahouses Middle School open for over a year.

Branton Community and Embleton Vincent Edwards C of E first schools will also expand to become primary schools, after having previously been earmarked for closure.

The Duchess Community High School, which is currently under reconstruction in Alnwick, will become a secondary school on one site and add 11 and 12 year-olds to its current 13-18 year-old intake.

£9.6m have been set aside by councillors to support these school alterations.

Robert Arckless, cabinet member for children’s services at the authority, told The Chronicle that as of now the shake-up is limited to schools in Alnwick, but would consider changes to school structures in other areas at the request of schools.

He said: “Understandably people are very passionate about schools and I am delighted that so many people engaged in the consultation processes as it shows how much they care about the education of their children.

“The council’s priority is to ensure all children have the best possible education regardless of the structure and we have a clear leadership role in working with schools to enable them to deliver this. I believe that what has been recommended, and supported by the vast majority of schools in the partnership, will ensure a sustainable school system across the Alnwick Partnership for the future.

“I hope that parents, governors and community groups who have campaigned for Branton and Embleton First Schools to become primary schools will continue to offer their support going forward; including choosing to send their children to the schools, and work with us to sustain them. I also recognise that this is difficult for some of the communities, in particular Seahouses and we will work closely with them.”

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