Angry parents fear county council is ‘railroading’ school closure plans

Guide Post Middle School.'REF 0701147786
Guide Post Middle School.'REF 0701147786

Angry parents fear council chiefs are railroading plans to close a much loved school, even going against national guidelines to ‘get the deal done’.

Nearly 1,000 people have backed a campaign to save Guide Post Middle School after it was earmarked for closure by Northumberland County Council after being placed in ‘special measures’ by Ofsted inspectors.

Guide Post Middle School.'REF 0701147758

Guide Post Middle School.'REF 0701147758

A recent consultation by the local authority showed 100 per cent opposition to the plans to close the school and send pupils to nearby primary or high schools.

But despite the ongoing opposition, parents fear the council will continue on with plans to change the school structure in the area from three-tier to two-tier.

Alison Fairbairn, whose son is in Year 7 and daughter in Year 8 at the school, said: “It seems as though the council don’t want to listen to the parents.

“They are pushing for closure but are not sticking to the national guidelines, similar to what they did when they closed Allendale Middle School in Tynedale.”

She said under the guidelines, schools earmarked for closure should be kept open for a minimum of a year to allow them to get out of special measures, but the council was proposing to close Guide Post Middle within six months.

The guidelines also state that a change from three-tier to two-tier should be supported by all parents, but it is not.

“The latest Ofsted inspection shows that the school is improving, but one of the primary schools the council has earmarked is declining and that it might not be able to cope with another two year groups,” said Mrs Fairbairn.

“The council says the consultation is ongoing and they will make a decision in April, but they are not giving anyone a clear answer.

“We feel as if the wool is being pulled over our eyes. The school is not being given a chance.”

The school, which has 299 pupils, was placed in special measures last October.

If the closure was approved, pupils in Years 7 and 8 would go to Bedlingtonshire Community High School while those in the younger years would go to either Stakeford, Mowbray or Ringway first schools, where they would be taught in portable classrooms.

Coun Arckless, policy board member for children’s services at Northumberland County Council, said: “The council is currently in consultation over its proposals involving all five schools which make up the Bedlington partnership, including Guide Post Middle School.

“Once the consultation has ended the council will collate all the responses from the consultation in respect of all five schools and the council’s policy board will then decide how to proceed.

“It is not appropriate at the present time to comment on any particular part of that consultation process.”