Proposal to extend school’s age range

Ponteland Community Middle School headteacher Caroline Pryer. Picture by Jane Coltman
Ponteland Community Middle School headteacher Caroline Pryer. Picture by Jane Coltman

Ponteland Community Middle School (PCMS) has announced expansion plans that would see it increase its intake to include Years 9, 10 and 11.

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

If this is approved, the new admission arrangements will come into effect for students who will be starting Year 9 in September 2019.

This news comes as PCMS was ranked the 111th best state school in the country for its SATs results last summer in the recently unveiled Parent Power, The Sunday Times Schools Guide.

The very impressive performance of its pupils included the reading, writing and maths score being more than 30 per cent higher than the national SATs average.

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.

PCMS headteacher Caroline Pryer said that having the freehold of the school’s land and buildings means it can come forward with plans for the future.

She added: “Given the educational changes in this area, it is important to find a collaborative solution with the Ponteland community where the children are at the heart of everything we do.

“The overwhelming response from our parent questionnaire was for the school to extend its age range to 16.

“We’ve launched a consultation and are working through the process of submitting a ‘significant change’ application, this includes setting out a business case, to the Department for Education.

“Although we became an academy in September, it has been business as usual for our teaching staff and they all have been brilliant – 94 per cent of them were recently triangulated by performance management to be outstanding.”

PCMS’ Sunday Times ranking is even more impressive when taking into account that its SATs cohort was 156, the second largest out of the top 250 listed in the Parent Power guide.

Dr Pryer said: “It’s fantastic that our school’s achievements have been recognised in a national publication.

“It confirms what Dr Bernard Trafford, who retired as headmaster of RGS in Newcastle in the summer, stated about PCMS pupils who move on to RGS. He said that he and his fellow staff can tell they arrive as ‘strong, independent and resilient learners’.”

The consultation on the nine to 16 proposal runs until noon on Monday, January 8. For more information, email admin@ponteland.academy