Allendale School plan could run out of time

A CLOSURE-THREATENED school has drawn up its own improvement plan – but may run out of time to implement it.

A CLOSURE-THREATENED school has drawn up its own improvement plan – but may run out of time to implement it.

Allendale Middle School in south Northumberland could be shut down by September 2013 following a critical Ofsted report, with its 137 pupils merging into neighbouring schools.

But a major wave of public support for the school has grown in a bid to avert closure.

Now the school has drafted its own improvement plan – but it would take four terms to implement, and closure could be only two-and-a-half terms away under existing local authority proposals. Headteacher Susan Hickey presented the plan to a closed meeting of parents and governors this week.

It includes improved contact with parents; staff visits to other schools; more student involvement and feedback; positive marking, including written advice; and better use of pupil break times.

The plan has the support of the local education authority, though the LEA had also prepared its own improvement plan and presented it to Ofsted for approval. A new battle is also looming after the LEA proposed an interim executive board take over from the current board of school governors. It would consist of one member from the current governors, three nominated LEA governors, and one from the North Pennine Learning Partnership (NPLP), of which Allendale Middle School is a member.

However, the LEA plan has run into opposition from the current governors as well as the NPLP.

The governors were given a brief summary of each candidate, but when more detailed CVs were not forthcoming, they said they were left with no option but to reject the proposal.

It will now fall to the Secretary of State to decide whether the interim executive board should be put in place. If so, then the current governors will not provide a member. There is growing opposition to the Ofsted report, which alleged students were “bored and listless” in an under-performing school guilty of poor planning and teaching.

Teachers and parents have said they believe the school is performing far better than the Ofsted report suggests, and point out that SATs results in English and maths had 90% and 63% success rates respectively.

Opponents of the closure plan say Northumberland County Council is trying to engineer a return to two-tier education through the back door in the five-school Haydon Bridge Partnership.


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