Council’s commitment on school places in Morpeth

One possible design for the new Morpeth First School on the current County Hall site.
One possible design for the new Morpeth First School on the current County Hall site.

Northumberland County Council has reiterated its commitment to the provision of school places in Morpeth, stressing there is availability.

The local authority is continuing its work to ensure each child within the county has a place within a school. Last year in Northumberland, 98 per cent of parents gained their first-choice preference of school. In Morpeth, this figure was 96 per cent.

A recent analysis of the school administration figures show that there are around 9,000 surplus places currently across the county, with several spaces available at first schools in Morpeth.

Attendance to the feeder first schools for at least two years would then provide priority for those pupils to attend the subsequent middle and high schools. Parents can apply for places if their children have not attended feeder schools or if they do not live in catchment areas, but if a school is particularly popular they are not guaranteed to get a place.

Many of the schools within Morpeth are very popular and well attended by children who live within the catchment area, along with approximately 22 per cent of intake from outside the catchment areas.

The movement of families into the area will mean that in the long term, those families based outside of the catchment area will lose out to school spaces as the places are filled by pupils living within the catchment area.

Coun Grant Davey, leader of Northumberland County Council, said: “Providing the best possible educational environment for pupils is a priority for us. I must stress there are spaces available in Morpeth for children in, or who will move into the catchment area.

“School are funded by government per pupil, so it is important for us to ensure our schools are as full as possible. This is so they gain the most income they can, through the Government’s new approach. Of course, this must be without compromising the standard of education and the ability of staff to manage.

“From September 2017, school funding will be determined by the National Funding Formula which could affect the way small schools are run, funded and supported. Schools with fewer pupils are clearly vulnerable, as pupil numbers form part of the calculation to determine budgets.

“As we see the movement of more families into the area, upcoming available places within our popular Morpeth-based schools will be filled by those pupils within the catchment area and we are likely to see a reduction of Morpeth school places being taken by out-of-catchment pupils.”

Parents are encouraged to check whether they live in a particular school’s catchment area before applying for a place. A catchment area map is available at http://map.northumberland.gov.uk/schools/