School changes agreed by cabinet

Northumberland County Council’s cabinet has agreed to the extension of the age ranges of West End First School and Whitley Memorial CE First School in Bedlington from September 2020.

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 so that they become primary rather than first schools.

In both informal and formal statutory consultation phases, the vast majority of consultees, including staff, parents and governors, were in favour of the proposals.

The cabinet has also agreed a capital investment in the region of £1.6m for improvement work at West End First School, and a £10,300 contribution to work that will be required at Whitley Memorial.  

Cllr Wayne Daley, cabinet member for children’s services said:  “These changes to two schools in Bedlington have been widely supported by parents, teachers, governors and the wider community.

“The council agreed to facilitate consultations after considering the schools’ requests and also 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 and have now agreed that these changes will take effect from September 2020.

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 have been outside the council’s control, and the Secretary of State for Education has now made the decision that it will become a one form entry primary school from September 2020.

Since the two 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 - into 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 from September 2020.  

The council’s cabinet also agreed today to make permanent the temporary expansion of places at Whytrig Middle School, Horton Grange First School and New Delaval First School.

These developments have been largely implemented over the last year and have seen an investment of £3.7m in 11 new classrooms.
 
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