Funding cut results in head’s departure

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A KEY figure in Morpeth’s academy of schools is moving on as part of efforts to make budget savings.

With a reduction in funds from the Government, The Three Rivers Learning Trust has revealed that it has been looking at ways to manage the situation without affecting the high quality of education for children aged nine to 19.

The first stage has focused on senior management and following a formal consultation, Paul Lawrence – executive headteacher of Chantry and Newminster Middle Schools and Technology Colleges – has volunteered for redundancy. This will take effect at the end of August.

King Edward VI School headteacher Simon Taylor will be the executive head of all three schools and a new head of school at KEVI will be appointed. The academy board believes that the closer integration will bring positives for staff and students.

The second phase of searching for savings will take place over the next few weeks. The number of teaching staff will remain unchanged.

Meanwhile, new admission criteria for places at the three schools from September 2014 have been revealed.

Pupils who have been in any of Morpeth’s first schools for two years or more will gain preference for entry to Chantry or Newminster. Similarly, those who have spent at least two years in Chantry, Newminster or Dr Thomlinson Middle School in Rothbury will be prioritised in transferring to KEVI.

Mr Taylor said: “Unfortunately, our budgets have got tighter like all schools across the country and we need to look at where we can make savings.

“But I believe that becoming a larger organisation through the academy process and having one governing body means we’re in a stronger position to cope with this and the even closer ties between the schools as a result of these changes will help our students’ progression through the trust.

“Associate teachers and staff will have even more opportunities to develop their skills across different age ranges.

“The new admission criteria is important because it give parents an assurance that if their children have spent most or all of their time in Morpeth partnership schools, they will have continuity in their education and they will not be split from their friendship groups.

“I’m delighted to be appointed the executive headteacher of all three schools. We are very fortunate to have such great middle schools and I’m looking forward to working with them.

“Even though we are part of one academy, all three will continue to maintain their own separate identities.”

Since The Three Rivers Learning Trust was formed in December 2011, the schools have had greater independence in how they manage their operations, apply for funding and set future curriculums.

A number of applications to a fund available to academy schools have been successful and a total of £2.7million has been spent on projects such as a new music centre at KEVI, replacement classrooms, roof insulations and a new boiler system.