Momentum builds behind bid to save school from axe

Ponteland Community Middle School.
Ponteland Community Middle School.

Momentum is building behind a campaign against the loss of a middle school as part of a major shake-up of schools in Ponteland.

The Facebook page, Parents of Ponteland Schools (POPS), was set up to oppose the closure Ponteland Community Middle School as part of plans to move to a two-tier system, but aims to act as a forum for all concerned parents within the partnership.

It builds on the online petition – bit.ly/SavePCMS – reported in last week’s Herald, which has so far been signed by more than 2,100 people.

Northumberland County Council’s cabinet voted to launch a consultation earlier this month following requests from first schools, but Hermina Ely, a mum of three school-age children in the Ponteland system and one of those running POPS, is concerned at the speed at which the whole process has taken place.

“The speed that this is moving barely gives experts, let alone parents, time to consider what is the best way forward,” she said. “We now have a critical deadline only a few weeks away with huge costs at stake.”

She added: “Parents in Ponteland are being forced to make an immediate decision on a huge and uncalled for re-organisation of their schools.

“The three-tier system works well in our locality and especially supports the development of children coming from our rural areas and villages where there are much smaller pupil numbers.”

The consultation runs until Wednesday, May 11, and parents have been assured by councillors that there isn’t ‘a grand plan’ for Ponteland’s schools and that it will be a ‘full, open consultation’.

Coun Robert Arckless, cabinet member for children’s services, said: “Every situation has to be looked at differently, because every situation is different and every community is different.

“We don’t have a grand plan for the structure of education in Ponteland. It doesn’t have to be this model; it will be an open consultation.”