Parents in battle to save school

Hundreds of angry parents have joined a campaign to save their school after it was earmarked for possible closure.

Parents at Guide Post Middle School have been left shocked at proposals by Northumberland County Council to close the school in the summer.

Education chiefs at the local authority are considering plans to change the school structure in the area from three-tier to two-tier.

It would mean 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.

More than 250 parents have joined a ‘Save Guide Post Middle School’ group on social networking site Facebook while nearly 100 have signed an e-petition on the council’s website.

Parents are hoping that if they can get enough support from the local community or businesses, the school will be kept open.

Alison Fairbairn, whose son is in Year 7 and daughter in Year 8 at the school, said: “We want to raise awareness and get support to save the school.

“The plans were first mentioned in November last year and it’s due to close at the end of July if there isn’t enough support.

“All the teachers are facing redundancy. This has sparked anger amongst parents.

“The stress on the children is unbearable. They left the school at Christmas crying as they are concerned they will lose their friends when the school is split up.”

The school, which has 299 pupils, was placed in ‘special measures’ following its latest Ofsted inspection last October.

Inspectors said the achievement of pupils, quality of teaching, and leadership and management were all “inadequate”.

But Mrs Fairbairn, of Stakeford, said parents felt the inspection did not reflect the school they knew and they were hoping to challenge the rating.

She added that the council was expected to make a decision in June, giving parents just four weeks to find alternate places for their children in other schools.

“We will have 11-year-olds getting on a bus unattended for two miles to Bedlington,” Mrs Fairbairn told the News Post Leader. “It’s a massive safety issue. There are financial issues as well.

“The area is unique. We are not suitable for two tier education.

“We are exploring turning the school into an academy. It is feasible but we will need to find backing for it.”

Anyone who wants to join the campaign to save the school can do so by searching for ‘Save Guide Post Middle School’ on Facebook or via the e-petitions on the council’s website.

Coun Robert Arckless, policy board member for children’s services, said: “I understand why people are concerned but this is statutory consultation as a direct result of the recent Ofsted inspection.

“When a school is placed in this category by Ofsted the options the government gives us are very limited.

“There’s been no final decision but we are currently in a period of formal consultation with local people so that everyone can have their say.”