The problems faced by Haydon Bridge High School are well known and I want to make my position very clear with regards to the current situation and the unsettling position that children and parents face.
Before I go any further I want to be quite honest – I do not control schools. I am passionate about schools, and education, and getting the best possible educational outcomes for all the children and young people in my constituency, but at the end of the day the decision as to the way forward for Haydon Bridge will not be made by me.
Having said that I do not run schools, there is still plenty that I can do, and that I have been doing for many, many months. I have met and discussed the School with Haydon Bridge residents, I have written numerous letters – just last week I wrote to the Regional Schools Commissioner and Lord Agnew (Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for the School System), and I have liaised closely with Northumberland County Council. Last Friday I had a meeting with Council Leader, Councillor Peter Jackson and I have met Councillor Wayne Daley – Portfolio Holder responsible for Education, on many occasions. I have a visit arranged to meet the Head and sit in on a lesson in the next couple of weeks.
The situation at Haydon Bridge has been allowed to deteriorate over a number of years under the previous Administration at County Hall, and has now reached the stage where difficult decisions will need to be taken by the new Conservative leadership to ensure that children get the quality of education that they deserve.
The first stage of a consultation about the future of education in the west of Northumberland generally is now underway, and headteachers, governors, faith representatives, Councillors, the regional schools commissioner and local academy trusts are all involved, with a second stage starting on 5th February, when communities across west Northumberland will have their chance to contribute to the discussions.
There will never be a consensus of opinion on the best way forward – the only thing that everyone will agree on is that what is important in the end is that every child gets the top quality education that they deserve.