Plans to introduce primary school education in Haltwhistle could start at the beginning of the next school year.

WISE Academies, which took over the existing first and middle schools on September 1, announced its proposal to take pupils from the ages of four to 11 on Tuesday.

A consultation will begin later this month and run until December, giving parents the chance to have their say on the plans.

In a statement, WISE said: “As a result of the wider organisational changes currently taking place in the area, WISE is taking the difficult but necessary decision to bring forward a proposal to change the age range on the Haltwhistle site.

“By doing so, WISE Academies is positioning itself for the future and seeking a sustainable solution that provides the highest quality facilities for the Haltwhistle community.

“The forthcoming consultation exercise, which finishes on December 3, will ensure that there is an opportunity for all stakeholders and interested parties to fully express their views.”

County councillor Ian Hutchinson, who represents Haltwhistle, believes that the changes will safeguard the future of schools in the town.

He said: “The idea is to go to Haltwhistle from starting age until 11, and then go to whichever school they wish, be it Haydon Bridge, Hexham or to the west. There will be a school in Haltwhistle and it will be sustainable.

“Changing back to a two-tier system will mean there’s more money and a better education for the kids.”