NORTHUMBERLAND County Council has waived its free school transport policy for one year, to support families who have opted to take up a Year Five place at Bellingham Middle School for their children.

The school, which was threatened with closure as part of a review of education provision across west Northumberland, remains part of the Haydon Bridge Partnership where a two-tier primary and secondary model has been introduced.

Six rural first schools are set to extend their age range to become primary schools, meaning Year Five places will become available at these schools closer to home.

However, the council has agreed a one-off exception to its home-to-school transport policy and granted transport for children who applied for a place at the middle school before the November 16 deadline last year.

Transport will only be granted to children transferring into Year Five of Bellingham Middle School from September 2020 onwards where the middle school is closer to the home address than a catchment primary school.

A spokeswoman for Northumberland County Council said: “We have considered very carefully the position for families in light of the future structure.

“In order to support transitions, the council has agreed to exercise its power to grant exceptions to the home-to-school transport policy.”