Parents to fight middle school closure decision

Parents have vowed to continue to fight to save their middle school despite councillors approving plans to close it this summer.

Teachers, governors and parents at Guide Post Middle School have been campaigning for the last six months to save the school after Northumberland County Council earmarked it for closure after it was placed in ‘special measures’ by Ofsted.

But despite members of the council’s policy board approving recommendations to close it and change to a two-tier educational system in the Bedlington area, parents say they will not give up the battle.

Alison Fairbairn, founder of ‘Save Guide Post Middle School from Closure’, said: “This decision, as devastating as it is, has not been unexpected.

“We have been here before, ten years ago. Exactly the same scenario, the council attempting to eradicate middle schools.

“I have secured legal funding and full support from Northumberland Education Action Group (NEAG) and court papers are being issued next week.

“The courts will force the council into the truth behind the closures. We will overturn this decision.”

Under the proposals, Guide Post Middle School would close on August 31 this year. From September 1, Bedlington Community High School would become a secondary school for 11 to 18-year-olds.

Mowbray and Stakeford first schools would have their age range extended to two to 11 years and Guide Post Ringway First School would also become a primary school for four to 11-year-olds.

Coun Robert Arckless, policy board member for children’s services, said: “It gives me no pleasure whatsoever to be involved in the closure of a school.

“The matter has been given a great deal of thought. I am very aware of the strength of feeling in the community.

“The priority has to be about raising standards. It’s not just about those children in the Bedlington partnership now but those in the future.

“We wouldn’t be considering this if it wasn’t for the Ofsted report last October and the damming indictment of the standards at Guide Post Middle School.”

Parents called on the board members to give the school more time to continue its recent improvement.

Margaret Coulson, whose grandchildren attend the school, said: “Government guidelines say schools should be given five terms to improve but Guide Post Middle has been given half of that time.

“The school can come out of special measures given the right time and support.

“Some of the other schools are not performing well, what happens if they go into special measures? What happens to the children then?”

Concerns were also raised about buses taking pupils to the ‘new’ schools and traffic disruption around the first schools due to the increased numbers.