Middle school to remain loyal to three-tier system

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CORBRIDGE Middle School this week insisted its children would continue to move up to Hexham’s Queen Elizabeth academy.

It gave the reassurance to parents as its future came under the spotlight following plans to turn the Queen Elizabeth High into a secondary, taking children from the age of 11 to 18, as part of a local two-tier framework.

But while Corbridge Middle said it remained committed to retaining the three-tier structure, it saw no reason why parents would end their tradition of sending their children to Hexham when they were 13.

At present 98 per cent of the school’s pupils go on to study at Hexham at Year 9.

Last month, the Hadrian Leaning Trust, the academy which governs Queen Elizabeth and Hexham Middle schools, embarked on consultations on merger plans which would see the closure of Hexham Middle and the creation of a secondary catering for children aged between 11 and 18.

If the proposal goes ahead it would entail the creation of a two-tier system, with the prospect of local first and middle schools either closing or becoming primaries.

Corbridge Middle had already thrown its support behind the creation of the Tynedale Community Learning Trust, a proposed multi-academy trust of nine middle and first schools in East Tynedale, along with Prudhoe High School.

Corbridge Middle School chairwoman of governors Jo Holmes, said the school had yet to officially respond as part of the Hadrian Learning Trust consultation.

But she insisted that, although Corbridge wished to establish stronger links and greater co-operation with other schools in the Tynedale trust, it was not the intention to alter the official progression routes through the Hexham partnership by encouraging parents to choose Prudhoe instead of Hexham.

“We see no reason why Year 9 children can not continue to go to Hexham, whether or not it becomes a secondary.

“The feedback we have received from our parents so far is that they value the middle school, and then the move on to Hexham. They are passionate about sending their children to this school, because of its broad curriculum and pastoral care, which they would not get at this age in primary or secondary schools.”

Mrs Holmes said Department for Education guidelines stated that no academy could unilaterally declare changes in age ranges.

She said agreements would have to be in place to produce a co-ordinated response across all schools.

“For us, that would mean continuing to offer an entry point at Year 9 into the Queen Elizabeth academy for those parents who wish to keep their children at middle school for Year 7 and 8.”

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