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The consultation for a new HIGH SCHOOL for Berwick upon Tweed has recently ended, and we await the decision of Northumberland County Council about the future of education in our area.

£40 million has been set aside to rebuild our school, and the investment will go to either a new Two-Tier system, or to bolster the existing Three Tier provision created for cost reasons back in the 1970s. An increasing number of school partnerships have converted two Two-Tier – most notably Alnwick’s Duchess’ School, where pupils from Berwick’s catchment area have already gone, from Wooler and Belford.

Your Parish Council unanimously supports the move two a Two-Tier system, and submitted this view to the County Council. Below are extracts from its submission.

“We believe that 3 tier education does not provide value for money and is out of step with the great majority of schools in the UK. It does not establish an effective and continuous education for children as they enter and grow through adolescence, and depends on exhausted and dated buildings and infrastructure.

“We believe the removal of Belford and Wooler to Alnwick is surely likely to stress the provision at the Duchess School. Alnwick is expanding in its own right, and this is likely to continue.

“We believe that the reorganisation of the Berwick Partnership to a 2-tier(primary/secondary) structure represents the best option for securing sustainable and viable education across the Berwick Partnership of schools and for achieving the objectives of the ‘Vision for Berwick’.

“The expansion of Lowick First School is to be welcomed – the village is an expanding settlement, and is one the larger communities in the partnership, and is linked to Holy Island School, which only survives because of tidal issues.

“We are saddened at the poor provision for pupils at secondary school age. The High School is not fit for purpose as a collection of buildings, and has not been for many years. A new school, to match the superb provisions in the Borders Region, and in the South and Middle of Northumberland is 30 years overdue. Naturally, middle school teachers love and speak highly of their work, but with poor continuity of provision into Y9 and KS4, this represents a broken model of provision, where relationships with children has to to rebuilt, often at a time when it is too late. A 3 tier system is merely tinkering with a deficient model and will not result in world class education – and further leakage of students will continue, to Scotland, Longridge Towers and Alnwick.

“Provision of these key public buildings is poor here, and indicates the lack of priority for Education in Berwick. We have had THREE SPORTS CENTRES since 1991, and a perfectly satisfactory THEATRE COMPLEX is to be rebuilt, when it meets our needs. Our HIGH SCHOOL has received no attention in this time, and the present proposal does little to say what could replace it. Where are the visionary plans that could inspire local people to choose them? The County Council wishes to proceed with the Two-Tier system, and should provide proper leadership at this time.

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