THE FUTURE of secondary education in part of Northumberland will be put at risk unless action is taken to tackle falling pupil numbers at two schools, it is claimed.
Governors of the Amble-based Coquet Federation – now known as the James Calvert Spence College – say the viability of local secondary education is under threat if they don’t intervene to cut the number of empty classroom places.
They issued the warning as county councillors prepare to sound the final death knell for Druridge Bay Middle School in the village of Hadston. Next week executive members are expected to agree to close the school with effect from August 31.
The Coquet Federation comprises Amble’s Coquet High School, Amble Middle and Druridge Bay Middle, which all share a single governing body.
Governors want to amalgamate the two middle schools and teach all of their combined pupils at the Amble site, with the Hadston school likely to be demolished at a cost of £233,000. Druridge Bay Middle has capacity for almost 400 pupils, but currently has only 163 on roll, meaning it has 57% surplus places..
Amble Middle has 36% surplus places and numbers at both are expected to continue to fall.
This is said to be having an effect on teaching, the breadth of curriculum on offer and the future standard of education available to the Hadston pupils.
Federation governors are worried that, without intervention, there will be a drift of pupils to neighbouring partnerships when they leave first school. A report to next week’s executive says the plans would allow the provision of a full and challenging curriculum with the appropriate teaching resources.
East Chevington Parish Council has objected to the move, saying facilities are better at Hadston than at the Amble site, and claiming there will be a major impact on staff and the local community.
A 12-week public consultation exercise resulted in 50.5% of those who responded supporting the closure and amalgamation, with 49.5% opposing it. The plans will save £165,000 a year but involve an extra £60,000 for school transport.