Parents split on school shake-up

Yvonne Mein from Pegswood with sons (left to right) Aidan Mein, Samuel Mein and Matthew Mein.'REF 0305144138
Yvonne Mein from Pegswood with sons (left to right) Aidan Mein, Samuel Mein and Matthew Mein.'REF 0305144138

A consultation over plans to make three village schools part of a two-tier system is underway.

Parents and guardians of pupils at Ellington, Linton and Pegswood First Schools received information about the proposed change on Tuesday, along with staff and governors.

The Herald spoke with a number of Pegswood and Linton parents as they picked up their children and from this grouping, there was an even split in favour of and against the move from a first, middle and high system to a primary and seconday structure.

The three first schools are part of the Ashington Partnership and currently, the pupils move on to Bothal Middle School at age nine. Parents can apply to send their children to Morpeth’s middle schools, although if they are successful they have to sort out their own transport arrangements.

If these plans are approved later this year, pupils would remain at the first schools until they are 11 and then go on to the new secondary school at the Ashington High School site.

One of the concerned Pegswood parents is Yvonne Mein, who has three boys including Samuel, two.

Her eldest son, Matthew, is in Year 5 at Chantry Middle School and middle son Aidan is in Year 3 at Pegswood First School.

She said: “Matthew has benefited from the freedom of going to middle school and whilst Pegswood is a great school, keeping him there another two years would have held him back.

“I’m worried that this change will make it harder to get Aidan a place at the Morpeth schools and if he ends up at Ashington, they will be split in two totally different directions.”

Andrew Robinson’s daughter Selby is in Year 1 at Pegswood and her sister Francesca starts in the Reception year in September.

He said: “Although I still need to go through the information, I think it’s a good idea in principle to move to a two-tier system.

“It seems that there will be less disruption as children will stay at Pegswood until 11 and the school years will flow better.”

Nancy Gray is against the proposal. She said it would be a shame if the children could not go to Bothal Middle School becuase she loved it there and there are more facilities for children in years 5 and 6 at the middle schools.

Janine Burt is concerned because she has a daughter in Year 4 at Linton First School and she would only be at middle school for two years before having to move on to Ashington.

“I’m not sure why there is a need to change something that works well,” she added.

“If they are going to move to a two tier system, the good thing is that Linton is a nice school and with a few changes it should be able to accommodate the older children.”

Kelly Armstong, whose daughter Olivia is in Year 1, said it would be better for pupils to stay at Linton for another two years and the saving on bus fares would be greater than the extra funds for school dinners.

Grandparent Doreen Chapman said having children until the age of 11 will be good for Linton First School’s long-term future, but Christie Thompson said they would be better off in the three-tier system.

Meanwhile, Pegswood parent Margaret Kerswell believes that the county council should have informed people sooner so they could have put forward their views before a proposal was put on the table.

Emma Anderson, whose two children are former Pegswood First School pupils, said it isn’t straightforward to know which system is best because her daughter was definitely ready to move on to a school with older children at the end of Year 4, but she felt her son was not ready for such a change and would have benefited from staying at Pegswood for another two years.

The consultation will run until September 22 and there will be public meetings at all three schools in July.