Glendale Middle School in Wooler fighting closure threats

A RURAL school head is calling on the community to back its battle for survival ...

A RURAL school head is calling on the community to back its battle for survival ... all the way to Westminster.

Ruth Bull, headteacher of Glendale Middle School in Wooler, Northumberland, is calling a public meeting next week to rally support.

The successful school faces closure in the next five years after being hit by Government budget cuts.

Cuts totalling more than £120,000 are looming at the 134-pupil school under the roll-call-related Government funding scheme.

Four of the popular school’s 27 staff – including two teachers – could lose their jobs by September, Mrs Bull fears.

The public meeting in the school hall on January 30 (7pm) is aimed at garnering enough support to put pressure on Education Secretary Michael Gove.

Mrs Bull, who has headed the school since 2005, said: “I am looking for support from the community to put that pressure on. If the position doesn’t change, this school will close in five years.

“The total figure of over £120,000 is 16% of the budget and that is a huge amount. I am having to lose excellent staff who have worked wonders for us.”

Mrs Bull added: “We need to make the Government understand rural schools can’t be treated in the same way as urban schools.

“This school needs another 28 pupils to make up the budget loss but where do we find them in a catchment area like ours? I am writing personally to Mr Gove to put forward our case but am also looking for moral support from the public.

“I am not asking for financial support, and I hope I don’t have to in the future. But we need to put the pressure on the Government now.”

Last night, 1,000 campaign leaflets were being circulated in the Wooler area.

Berwick MP Sir Alan Beith has given Glendale Middle his backing and says: “It’s important that we back our rural schools, because we need them.”

Meanwhile, campaigners battling to save Allendale Middle School in west Northumberland have criticised the education authority’s public consultation in the lead-up to the final decision.

The 102-pupil school faces closure after a bad 2012 Ofsted report – and a decision is expected by the end of this month.

But the 12-week consultation which ended on Christmas Eve has come under fire. A prime complaint is the claimed lack of information provided on closure or the alternative option of the school becoming a sponsored academy.

Allendale Parish Council say they were “unable to arrive at a balanced conclusion” due to the lack of information from county education chiefs.

Clerk Ann Grieve said councillors were “very unhappy” with the way the future of schooling in the Haydon Bridge Partnership has been handled.

Mike Routledge, headteacher of Haltwhistle Campus, which is considering a switch to academy status, warned under closure the quality of education in the mini-partnership including Allendale, Haydon Bridge and Whitfield schools would be “diminished”.

Schools in the partnership would become less educationally and financially viable, and requirements for change had not been thought through, he said.

Mr Routledge, in a joint letter with the schools’ chair of governors’ Lawrence Thompson, warned: “There could be grounds to challenge the process and we have been told some parents feel strongly enough about the situation to explore this.”

A 197-name petition seeking the retention of Allendale Middle School was presented to the council yesterday, and the executive will make its decision on Monday.

 

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