Angry parents oppose plans to close Seaton Sluice Middle School

A campaign has been launched to save a school from closure.

Friday, 19th November 2021, 10:00 am
Updated Friday, 19th November 2021, 11:01 am
Parents Samantha Tench, Victoria Bester and grandparent Eleanor Dunlop with current and future pupils Joseph, Finlay and Betsy Tench, Harry Howitt, Jake Gomm, Thomas Howitt, Olivia Dunlop and Halle Gomm.

Parents in Seaton Sluice have urged Northumberland County Council to dismiss a request from a school governing body to close their middle school.

Seaton Sluice Middle School is under threat after the Seaton Valley Federation asked the Council to consult on the school merging with Whytrig Middle School in Seaton Delaval.

The proposals would see a new school built with a high school on the same site, but parents are unconvinced it is a good idea and they have called for Seaton Sluice Middle School to be saved.

Parent Victoria Bester said: "The governing body has failed to demonstrate any benefits of closing the school and I haven't spoken to any other parent who supports the proposal.

“The school doesn't just provide for children in Seaton Sluice but also from New Hartley and Seghill.

"It is an excellent school and is the right size compared to what is proposed which would mean all children in Seaton Valley would go to the same site from the age of nine.

"This would cause traffic chaos wherever the new build is located.

"The consultation hasn't even said where exactly in Seaton Delaval that will be which makes it impossible to properly consider the impact of losing the school.

"The school is a key part of the village and the governing body should go ahead with the original plan of replacing Whytrig and Astley High School on the current site rather than pursuing something that isn't wanted or needed."

Fellow parent Samantha Tench added: “We don’t feel we are being listened to and are very disappointed that the Chair of the Governors who is backing the plans is also one our Seaton Sluice Parish Councillors and Chair of the Parish Council.

“We understand the Parish Council will be receiving a presentation from the Executive Head Teacher about what he sees as the benefits of the middle school being closed, but we haven’t been offered the same opportunity which feels very wrong.

“We have written to Ian Levy MP to highlight our concerns not just about the closure but the clear flaws in the consultation process.”

Blyth Valley MP Ian Levy said: "I am very concerned to hear that residents do not believe their views are being taken into account.

"I am fully behind Whytrig Middle and Astley High schools being rebuilt but closing Seaton Sluice Middle School would be a very significant change for Seaton Valley.

"It should only be considered if there is support from all involved and at present that clearly is not the case.

"I am also troubled that the consultation is not precise about where a new school would be located in Seaton Delaval and am extremely surprised that views have been sought when such a fundamental piece of information is missing.”

The consultation closes on December 1.

Parents of children at Seaton Sluice are urging everyone with an interest to share their views and have also set up a Save Seaton Sluice Middle School Facebook page which has more than 400 members.

A Northumberland County Council spokesperson said: "The council is holding a consultation at the request of Seaton Valley Federation on proposals to amalgamate Seaton Sluice Middle School with Whytrig Middle School and Astley High School.

"The consultation which is open until Wednesday, December 1, offers parents and carers of those children attending Seaton Sluice Middle School, Whytrig Middle School and Astley High School the opportunity to have their say and raise any concerns they have with the proposals put before them.

"We want to assure parents and carers that all views will be considered as part of the process.

"We have had a number of queries in regards the proposals and we have created some frequently asked questions and answers which can be found at nland.uk/SeatonValleyFederation as part of the consultation process.

"They can also access the consultation via this link and feedback their views via the online survey.

"Whilst we had planned to hold a face-to-face public consultation, we have been unable to due to the number of rising cases in the county.

"This does not mean that the opportunity to raise concerns or ask questions cannot happen.

"We encourage parents and carers to complete the consultation survey and raise any additional questions not already asked via the FAQs by contacting [email protected]"