Statutory proposal for Bedlington schools changes

Northumberland County Council’s cabinet has today agreed to publish a statutory proposal to extend the age ranges of West End First School and Whitley Memorial CE First School in Bedlington.

This follows an approach to the council by the governing bodies of both schools earlier this year, asking for a public consultation on extending their age ranges to become primary schools, rather than first schools.

In the informal consultation, the vast majority of consultees, including staff, parents and governors, were in favour of the proposal at West End.  In the case of Whitley Memorial there was clear support from staff, governors and the Diocese, while over half of parents (56%) were also in favour of the move.

The statutory proposals will be published on the 11 July, setting out the intention of the county council to implement the following changes:

● Extend the age range of West End First School from a 2 form entry (planned admission number - PAN - 60), age 4 to 9 first school to become a 1 form entry (PAN 30), age 4 to 11 primary school with effect from 1 September 2020, noting that the reduction in the PAN would be applicable to reception class from that date onwards;

● Extend the age range of Whitley Memorial CE First School from a 1.8 form entry (PAN - 54), age 3 to 9 first school to become a 1 form entry (PAN - 30), age 3 to 11 primary school with effect from 1 September 2020, noting that the  reduction in the PAN would be applicable to reception class from that date onwards.

Details will be available at www.northumberland.gov.uk/schoolconsultations and the consultation will run until midnight on 8th August 2019.

Outcomes from this statutory consultation will be brought back to the council’s cabinet in September 2019 for a final decision.

In order to implement the proposals a capital investment in the region of £1.7m will be required and the cabinet noted that this would be met from the existing School Capital Maintenance Grant fund.

A Northumberland County Council spokesperson said:  “The council agreed to facilitate the informal consultation after considering the schools’ requests and taking into account the current school arrangements in Bedlington - where the majority are already within a two-tier system.

“We have looked carefully at the views of parents, schools and the wider community, the vast majority of whom have welcomed the proposals.

“We are now moving to the next stage, a formal statutory consultation, and the results of this will come back to the cabinet for a final decision this September.”

The majority of schools in the Bedlington Partnership are already within a two-tier system, with only West End First, Whitley Memorial First and Meadowdale Middle Academy remaining three-tier.  

Decisions about Meadowdale Academy are outside the council’s control, and the Secretary of State for Education has now made the decision to agree that it can become a one form entry primary school from September 2020.

Since the two senior academies, Bedlington and St Benet Biscop Catholic, took their decisions to change to 11 to 18 secondary schools they have retained two intakes each September - to year 7 and year 9 - to reflect the mixed system.

These schools have recently announced that they will remove the intake into Year 9 and will only have one annual intake of pupils into Year 7.  
 
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