Green light for school to close

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A BEDLINGTON school twice placed in special measures after being judged to be letting its pupils down is to close this summer, it has been confirmed.

Executive members at Northumberland County Council this week approved plans to close Bedlingtonshire Junior High School because its pupils are consistently failing to meet national standards.

The school will close at the end of August as part of a reorganisation of schools in and around the town.

Bedlington Station, Stead Lane and Cambois first schools will be turned into primaries and Bedlingtonshire High School will become a secondary school for children aged 11 to 18.

Bedlingtonshire Junior High, known as West Sleekburn Middle until September 2010, has fallen below government-required standards for key stage two for the last six years.

It was put in special measures by the Office for Standards in Education in 2003 and 2007.

An Ofsted inspection last year rated the school as satisfactory, but education officials at the county council believe it is in the best interests of pupils to close the school and introduce a two-tier education system for the other four schools nearby.

Parents have backed the move following a three-month consultation period at the start of the year.

Executive members rubber stamped the proposals, saying that a change from three-tier to two-tier education had helped children in Blyth and Cramlington.

Lesley Rickerby, of South Blyth, the council’s executive member for children and young people, said: “We’ve looked into this in great detail.

“This is the only way forward to improve the life chances of young people in Bedlington.

“It is indicative that the parents have looked hard at this and decided that is the way forward for youngsters.

“We have to recognise in schools where there has been a change that children are performing better and achieving more.”

Education officers said that moving to a two-tier system would mean pupils were not moving schools during key stage two, allowing them to concentrate on their education and running less risk of a negative impact on their learning.