Fresh bid to extend age range at Pont school

Ponteland Community Middle School headteacher Dr Caroline Pryer.
Ponteland Community Middle School headteacher Dr Caroline Pryer.

Ponteland Community Middle School’s (PCMS’s) expansion plan details have been changed and re-submitted to the Government.

The school became an academy trust last September and the new body’s board of trustees ran a consultation on the proposal to change the school’s age range from nine to 13 to nine to 16.

A bid was submitted earlier this year that included having 150 children in the new year groups – Years 9, 10 and 11.

More details were sought by Lord Agnew, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for the School System, including on the issue of financial viability.

PCMS looked at all areas of the proposal and the contention from some of the parties that responded to the consultation and a fresh submission has now been made to Lord Agnew.

With the rest of Ponteland’s schools changing to a two-tier system, students that would have been leaving the middle school in Year 8 from 2019 under its current arrangement were facing having to go to a school in another area for Years 9, 10 and 11 as the new Ponteland secondary school will be taking each cohort starting in Year 7 through to Year 11.

If successful, the school would receive its first Year 9 intake in September 2019, then the initial Year 10 intake in 2020 and the first Year 11 intake in 2021. The number of children for each year group in the new proposal is 120.

PCMS headteacher Caroline Pryer said: “We’ve not left a stone unturned in looking at all of the aspects, including the timetable, staffing and GCSE options, and the parents forum has been involved in the discussions.

“Lord Agnew asked us to explore, research, confirm and investigate various things and we believe we have put forward a comprehensive proposal that addresses each one.

“We have been speaking to potential funders and we believe we have set out the financial viability for at least the next five years, which is what we are required to do as part of the application.

“We have also looked at other schools’ GCSE provision and Whitley Bay High School, as a fellow Teaching School, has been particularly helpful.

“After exploring all the options, we think having 120 in the new year groups is the best option. I hope that we receive a decision by the end of June.

“We have taken into account the new housing developments coming forward in the local area and nearby areas of west Newcastle.

“I’m grateful to all trustees, staff and parents involved in the process for their efforts and whilst this has been going on, it has been very much business as usual at the school thanks to our outstanding staff.”

During the consultation, objections were received from Ponteland High School, the Ponteland primary schools, Newcastle City Council and primary schools in the Newcastle area.