THE controversial decision to close Bellingham Middle School has been rejected by a government adjudicator following a campaign by the local community.

The decision to create a primary school on the site of the existing middle school was taken by the council in July and led to an outcry in the village, with objections centred around travel time, disruption to pupils and a preference for a three tier system.

At a public meeting earlier this month, schools adjudicator Tom Brooke heard about the impact the school's closure would have on children's travel arrangements and the local economy.

Mr Brooke, who experienced the increased journey time faced by pupils first hand, announced his decision to reject the closure ahead of his full report so that parents could make an informed choice about where to send their children before the admissions deadline of October 31.

A letter to parents from acting headteacher Helen Samuels said: "It was felt the admissions deadline of October 31 created exceptional circumstances for letting parents and carers know of the decision ahead of the report's publication."

A spokeswoman for Northumberland County Council said:  "We note the decision of the adjudicator. 

"We also note that it currently does not come with any additional information or rationale for this decision about Bellingham Middle School, so it is difficult to comment further at this stage.

"The council’s primary focus is on delivering excellence in education.

"The decision to convert first schools to primary schools in September 2019 is aimed at securing a sustainable model of education for the Haydon Bridge partnership - and there are no plans for this decision to change.

"We are contacting all parents with detailed information about their options."