Guidepost Middle School fight goes to 10 Downing Street

Parents fighting to save Guidepost Middle School have taken their protest to Prime Minister David Cameron

Rachel McGarvey with Daughters Olivia (4) Megan (9) and Maya (11)
Rachel McGarvey with Daughters Olivia (4) Megan (9) and Maya (11)

Parents of a closure threatened Northumberland school have taken their fight to save it to David Cameron.

Parents of children at Guidepost Middle School have contacted 10 Downing Street to register their protest at Northumberland County Council’s moves to close it.

Meanwhile, councillors are to decide the fate of another school facing the axe in the county at a meeting next week.

As previously reported by The Journal, Guidepost 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, saying its leadership was not capable of securing improvement.

The county then began consultation on its closure from August, with Stakeford, Ringway and Mowbray first schools to retain children until the age of 11 instead of nine as they do currently. Bedlington High would then take them at the age of 11.

The Save Guidepost Middle School From Closure action group was formed in the wake of the council plans. Yet earlier this month, the county council’s policy board agreed to publish a statutory proposal to close the school. The action group has since contacted Downing Street voicing concerns at the council’s handling of the process.

Peter Byrne/PA Wire Prime Minister David Cameron
Prime Minister David Cameron

Members have been told the matter has been referred to the relevant Government department, which will respond.

Last night, group leader Alison Fairbairn said: “We have no confidence in the council and we won’t stand back and allow them to destroy our kids’ education through rash decisions which have proven the children aren’t put first.

“We will do whatever it takes to save our school and get support for our children.”

The group has also been trying to find a law firm willing to look into the council’s handling of the process.

Meanwhile, the policy board will on Tuesday decide whether to close Amble’s St Cuthbert’s Roman Catholic Voluntary Aided First School.

Like Guidepost, 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.

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 former governor 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.

Mrs McGarvey, a 40 -year-old stay-at-home mum and student who lives at Robsons Way, is to speak at the meeting.

She said: “There are so many good things happening in Amble, it just seems daft to close a school.”


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