Amble school's closure approved by Northumberland County Council

The closure of Amble’s St Cuthbert’s Roman Catholic Voluntary Aided First School has been approved

Rachel McGarvey outside St Cuthbert’s RC School
Rachel McGarvey outside St Cuthbert’s RC School

The death knell has been sounded for a Northumberland school after councillors voted to close it.

Northumberland County Council’s policy board has chosen to shut Amble’s St Cuthbert’s Roman Catholic Voluntary Aided First School, meaning its doors will close at the end of the summer term in July.

The decision comes after the site was found to be failing by Ofsted last year and placed in special measures. At the same time, governors at the school reported a gradual fall in pupil numbers, to just 38.

In addition, only one child has been registered for a place in reception class for this September.

The school faced the prospect of reduced funding due to the low numbers and having to cut staff.

The governors, following consultation with the dioceses, asked the county council to begin consultation on closure.

The move sparked Rachel McGarvey, who has two children go to the school, to set up a petition calling for St Cuthbert’s to be saved. 167 people signed it in three days.

A report to the policy board meeting states that of 379 consultation documents distributed, only 32 were returned, a return rate of around 8.4%. 30 of these were against the proposal with two in favour. During the statutory period, five responses were received, four against and one in favour.

Despite that opposition, the policy board has now voted for closure.

Mrs McGarvey last night said: “A decision to close now might be regretted a long time into the future.

“It is very disappointing. I just think it is really really sad for Amble because many other good things are happening here.”

A council spokesman said: “The council and the Roman Catholic Diocese will work closely with the governing body of the school to ensure that the last few weeks of this year are well-managed in the school.

“They will also work with the acting headteacher to support the transition of the pupils in St Cuthbert’s First School to their new schools.”

The decision of the policy board is final, though it will be reported to the next full council meeting.

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