A CONTROVERSIAL decision to close Bellingham Middle School has been rejected by a government adjudicator following a campaign by parents and the local community.

The schools adjudicator, Tom Brooke, announced his decision to save the school on Monday 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.

The decision to create a primary school on the site of the existing first and middle schools was taken by the county council in July, as part of its plans to create a two-tier system in the area with primary schools feeding into Haydon Bridge High School.

But at a public meeting earlier this month, Mr Brooke heard about the impact the middle school’s closure would have on travel time and the local economy.

Tom Chadwin, from Falstone, has been campaigning to keep Bellingham Middle School open since it was first threatened. He said: “We have to be incredibly grateful to the adjudicator for getting the decision out so quickly to help parents make their decision.

“It’s such a relief that somebody agrees with us and we are justified in our outrage.”

Parent Carl Hamilton, whose daughter is in year six at the school, said: “It’s great to know that our campaigns for good quality education in the local area have been heard.”

A spokeswoman for Northumberland County Council said the decision would not alter its wider plans.

“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,” she said.

But Mr Chadwin added: “What remains of the county council proposal seems like a house of cards that will collapse. Changes will have to be made.”

l Courant Opinion – p20 

With Bellingham First School still set to convert to a primary, parents of children in years five and six will have the choice of two schools.