Primary schools are ‘vulnerable’

MANY people will be aware of Cramlington gaining a ‘free school’.

This primary school will be located at the former Eastlea School site.

Northumberland County Council did not wish to ‘give’ the school the site, which obviously has a value either for building much needed affordable housing or even providing extra sports facility for the area.

The school will pay a peppercorn rent, and in my opinion this is quite literally theft of land which should have been sold for the benefit of the community.

At the moment there are spare primary school places in Cramlington.

Of course some have waiting lists, but at the moment Cramlington can cope with its pupil numbers, which are registered with Northumberland County Council at birth.

Cramlington Village Primary School is the name of the free school, which will not be located in Cramlington Village but at Eastfield.

What will be the effect of the free school on others in Cramlington?

It could leave one or two existing primary schools vulnerable.

Each pupil brings about £2,000-plus to a school. Those on free school meals bring a pupil premium which is an additional £800.

Less pupils mean less money and less teachers and eventually closure.

The free school’s catchment area is now a ten-mile circular radius around Cramlington.

This September might not be too bad, but each successive year will distort the situation.

The government is keen on market forces, so are the local Conservatives, but the three-tier to two-tier movement was essentially to remove surplus places and now they are being recreated. I am not keen on disturbing a stabilised system.

COUN BARRIE CROWTHER

Cramlington