Image demonstrating Consultation on £40m investment for Berwick Schools

Consultation on £40m investment for Berwick Schools

A public consultation is set to get underway on the future model of schools in Berwick after the Council’s Cabinet approved the next step in its major investment in the county’s education provision.   
The Council has allocated almost £40m of funding from its budget for capital schemes to improve school buildings and facilities in the Berwick Partnership, including a new home for Berwick Academy.  
But first, members of the public are being asked for their views to help shape the plans and make sure the funding creates a sustainable school system that is in the best interests of young people who attend schools in the Berwick area, now and in the future. 
The first stage of a planned two-stage informal consultation will cover whether the Berwick Partnership should continue to be organised in a three-tier system or move to a two-tier system of primary and secondary schools.  
Special educational needs and disability (SEND), Early Years, Post-16 and Post-18 provision will also be under review to see where improvements can be made.   
Views will also be sought on whether Belford Primary, Wooler First and Glendale Middle Schools should join the Alnwick Partnership to better reflect the flow of secondary aged pupils. 
The second stage will then focus on detailed proposals for individual schools within a wider school reorganisation of the Berwick Partnership, which may include possible school closures.  
Cabinet Member for Children’s Services, Councillor Guy Renner-Thompson, said: “We want to ensure the best education standards for our children and young people and quality school buildings and learning facilities are central to this. That is why we are investing over £100m in a capital programme for our county’s schools.   
“But bricks and mortar alone are not enough, and we need to get this major investment in the Berwick Partnership right from the very start to ensure we have a sustainable education system, with first-class facilities and first-class teachers, to deliver the best outcomes for our young people.   
“That’s why we want to seek opinions from pupils, parents, carers, school staff and the wider community of the Berwick Partnership area on all stages of the education system - from early years, through to schools, SEND, post-16 and post-18 provision – to create a shared vision for the future.”  
Northumberland County Council’s school investment and improvement programme is the Council’s largest ever capital programme, improving education prospects for all.   
Cath McEvoy-Carr, Executive Director for Adult and Children’s Services, said: “We have been working closely with schools in the Berwick Partnership over the last year to discuss a number of possible models of organisation.  
“Fewer children are being born in the Berwick Partership area with 128 surplus Reception places expected by 2025. Over a quarter (28%) of high school pupils are also leaving the partnership area for schools in Alnwick, Scotland and the private sector.   
“Before committing to such investment in these schools, it’s important that the organisational structure within the Berwick Partnership is viable and sustainable in the medium to long-term, retaining pupils through all phases.   
“The next steps in our consultation process will enable everyone involved to have their voices heard on how we can secure the best education and outcomes for our children and young people.”  
Consultation will take place between 23 May and 12 August 2022. 
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