MP urges Northumberland County Council to give under-threat school more time

Wansbeck Labour MP Ian Lavery has called for Northumberland County Council to extend the consultation over plans to close Guide Post Middle School

Guide Post Middle School
Guide Post Middle School

An MP last night said a decision to close a Northumberland school should be put on hold as he branded a re-organisation timetable “unrealistic”.

Wansbeck Labour MP Ian Lavery has called for Northumberland County Council to extend the consultation over plans which would see Guide Post Middle School close at the end of this year, with four other sites taking its pupils.

The MP has stated the four remaining schools would not be in a position to accommodate the changes by the start of the next academic year.

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, saying leadership were 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 it currently stands. Bedlington High would then take them at the age of 11.

The Save Guide Post Middle School From Closure action group was formed in the wake of the council plans. Mr Lavery has met county council leaders, governors, headteachers, staff and parents of children from four of the five schools involved.

Last night he said: “It is unrealistic to put any changes in place in time for the start of the next school year this September.

“What I am calling for is the timescale to be extended so that all options can be fully explored in the very best interests of all the children.

“As I understand it, work would need to be done to the three remaining schools if Guide Post closed, including the building of a new hall at Stakeford, and I cannot see how there can be time for that to be done before September.

“In other areas, such boards are given up to two years to try to improve standards at so-called ‘failing’ schools, and I am sure this could happen here.

“What I don’t want to see happen is such an important decision as this one affecting Guide Post and Stakeford to be rushed through to meet an unrealistic timescale, without the fullest consideration and consultation taking place.

“It is in the very best interests of the children that whatever decision-making process is gone through, that is done thoroughly and with the full approval and backing of everyone involved without any time constraints.”

In a statement re­­l­eased last night, a council spokesperson said: “We understand the MP’s concerns but it is a formal consultation period and we are unable to comment further.”

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