Parents fight to save Guide Post Middle School from closure

Parents are fighting to save a Northumberland school from closure after it was criticised heavily by education watchdog Ofsted

Parents and children outside Guide Post Middle School
Parents and children outside Guide Post Middle School

Parents at a Northumberland school earmarked for closure following a damning Ofsted inspection are fighting to keep it open.

Northumberland County Council is proposing to close Guide Post Middle School, near Ashington, after it was found to be failing in a recent inspection.

But a group of parents has formed an action group to save the school, disputing Ofsted’s criticisms, claiming their area is not suitable for two-tier education and voicing alarm at the prospect of having to put their children on buses to schools elsewhere.

The school was one of 17 in Northumberland visited by Ofsted in October amid concerns over standards of education in the county. Inspectors found the site to be “inadequate”, saying its leadership “have not demonstrated the capacity to secure the necessary improvement in the school that would remove it from the special measures category.”

Under Government policy, schools placed in “special measures” must either close or become academies.

County council officers produced a report to the authority’s policy board recommending statutory consultation begin on the closure of the school from August.

The proposal forms part of a partial reorganisation of the Bedlington partnership of schools which would see Guide Post’s three feeder first schools become primaries, retaining pupils until they are 11 rather than the current nine.

Now the Save Guide Post Middle School from Closure action group has set up petitions including on the council’s website, and a Facebook group, which hundreds of people have signed or joined.

Parents point to the school’s recent SATS results – said to be the best it has achieved – as proof that it is performing well. They are calling on Ofsted to help the school improve instead of standing back and watching it close.

Parents want the council to seek a sponsor that would allow the school to become an academy.

Members are concerned at the prospect of children being sent to Bedlingtonshire Community High two years earlier, claiming that school has been identified as needing improvement.

Group founder Alison Fairbairn, a 38 year old housewife who lives at Carlow Drive, West Sleekburn, and whose children Grace, 12, and Adam, 10, are pupils at the school, last night said: “We do not believe it warrants closure at all.

“There are hundreds of parents in outrage because of it.

“Our children are really well supported, they are progressing fantastically.

“We believe it can be turned around. We have got a very good argument to keep it going. It is a very good school.”

The county council has said its options following the Ofsted inpection are limited.

Coun Robert Arckless, policy board member for children’s services, said: “I understand why people are concerned but this is statutory consultation as a direct result of the recent Ofsted inspection.

“When a school is placed in this category by Ofsted the options the government gives us are very limited.

“There’s been no final decision but we are currently in a period of formal consultation with local people so that everyone can have their say.”

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