THE success of Morpeth schools could be a key driver to economic development.
A group set up to look at education through the Morpeth Neighbourhood Plan process says that schools’ potential should be maximised as they can draw more families to the area, stimulating housing and jobs, which in turn supports other business and infrastructure.
The town’s schools already draw pupils from outside their catchment areas as all are rated good or outstanding by Ofsted.
Government policy urges schools to expand so the group says there is scope for them to increase numbers further, taking advantage of new freedom from national and local control.
The group advises that Northumberland County Council will not fund an additional school while children can be accommodated in existing facilities, but Community Infrastructure Levy regulations for developers to provide local enhancements could provide funding for extra places.
It is considered vital that first schools retain sufficient spaces to take in children from their associated nurseries.
There is support in Pegswood for its school to join the Morpeth school pyramid for pupils to access the town’s middle and high schools.
The group says that the general state of school buildings in the town is satisfactory, but Goosehill requires more investment and sooner than the others.
It suggests that a new building for the school should be a key aspiration in the Plan and that the county council should be obliged to play its full part in finding a way forward.
l Support the Morpeth partnership of schools to maximise potential, taking advantage of options for freedom from national and local government control.
l Support Pegswood’s aspiration to become part of the Morpeth schools’ pyramid.
l Retain sufficient places in first schools to provide continuity from their associated nurseries.
l Encourage Northumberland County Council to play a full and proper part in finding a suitable way forward for Goosehill School to provide a new building.