No hot dinners for children at closing Guidepost school

Parents of children at soon-to-close Guidepost Middle School have voiced anger after learning their children will not be served hot meals

Guide Post Middle School
Guide Post Middle School

Pupils at a Northumberland school on the brink of closure will not be served dinners in its final weeks.

Children at Guide Post Middle School near Ashington will not be given hot dinners next week, the site’s penultimate week before it is closed, due to building work.

Parents of pupils at the school claimed the failure to provide hot meals in the school’s final days was the “final insult” on the back of the decision to close it.

The local education authority said children who qualify for free school meals will be provided with packed lunches and that those who have pre-paid for dinners will be refunded.

As previously reported, Guide Post was earmarked for closure after being one of 17 visited by Ofsted last October following concerns over the standard of education in the county.

Inspectors found it to be inadequate and placed it in special measures.

Northumberland County Council then began consultation on its closure from August, with plans to allow Stakeford, Ringway and Mowbray first schools to retain children until the age of 11 instead of nine as they do currently from September.

Bedlington High would take children from the age of 11.

The Save Guide Post Middle School From Closure action group set up petitions which hundreds of people signed, and in February, Wansbeck MP Ian Lavery called for Guide Post to be given time to improve.

But following two periods of consultation, the county council agreed the closure at a meeting last month.

Parents were recently sent a letter by the school informing them that children will be taught in its enterprise centre in its penultimate week, which begins on Monday.

This is due to building works to be carried out at the main site, in preparation for September, when it is to be used as part of the new Mowbray primary school.

These will render the school’s kitchen not “fully operational.”

As a result, parents have been told they will have to provide packed lunches for their children unless they qualify for free meals, in which case packed lunches will be provided by the school.

Alison Fairbairn, who has two children at Guide Post and who led the action group’s fight to save the school, called it “the final insult” following the decision to close.

She also asked why the building work could not be left for a few weeks in order to minimise disruption for children.

Mrs Fairbairn added: “Kids and staff have been through enough without this. Alterations should start after term ends. There’s been no support from Northumberland County Council.”

A council spokesman said: “During the final two weeks of the summer term all pupils in the Bedlington Partnership will be moving up to their next phase to meet their new teachers and classes – this is customary in many schools.

“The only pupils left in the Guide Post building, as such, will be year five and a small group of pupils who are moving to a school out of the catchment area.

“During the penultimate week of term pupils will be in the Enterprise building working on projects and will be required to bring a packed lunch or be provided with a packed lunch by the school if they qualify for free school meals. Pupils who have pre-paid for lunches are to be refunded.

“During the final week of term pupils will be using the Mowbray First School building and will be provided with a school meal.”

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