Saturday, 26 March 2016

Update on County Council approach to Ponteland Schools

The four County Councillors for Ponteland and I are furious we were not consulted in any meaningful way, and that the Council is once again trying to impose its own plans on Ponteland.
I know this outstanding school, and its outstanding headteacher Dr Carolyn Pryor very well. It has outstanding results and I know is strongly supported. I have visited the school, and met the teachers, parents and pupils many times. Indeed, we have worked very hard to improve the facilities there. In April 2015 I was part of the opening football match at the new football pitch that was funded by the Premier League, the Football Association and Sport England money, on the basis that the school would be there on a long term basis. 
We cannot see why there is such an unseemly rush for this unprecedented upheaval. There is a real danger the County Council is now setting one school against another. Whilst there may be benefits to the surrounding first schools in extending their age ranges, we personally could not support a consultation which proposes closing Ponteland Middle School, which is one of Northumberland's most outstanding schools.
The formal consultation on the closure of Ponteland Middle School is rushed and has been decided behind closed doors.
It is now vital the County Council listens to the people of Ponteland. If local people are opposed to these plans it would be a real mistake for the County Council to go ahead. Politicians should listen to local people and so I would urge the County Council to listen to what local people have to say. If they say that the County Council should abandon these proposals and maintain the three tier system then that is exactly what the County Council should do.