GOVERNORS at two first schools have approved plans to share one headteacher.

When the children return to school after the Easter holidays in April, Corbridge First School and Broomhaugh First School, in Riding Mill, will be under the leadership of executive headteacher Jennifer Ainsley.

The impending retirement of current Broomhaugh headteacher, Jen Stephenson, has allowed the Diocese of Newcastle to look at new ways of securing the Church of England schools’ long-term future, with Miss Ainsley expanding her current role as headteacher at Corbridge.

The move follows a consultation exercise run by Northumberland County Council, which last year earmarked five rural church schools for closure as part of its proposals to close 16 schools in total in the west of the county.

While these plans were scrapped, the local authority urged schools to consider ways of working more closely.

As executive headteacher, Miss Ainsley will split her time between the two schools. An executive deputy head will be appointed in due course.

Andrew Neal, chairman of governors at Corbridge, said: “Working together, we are stronger and we can ensure our focus remains on maintaining the fantastic education we offer in our small rural church schools to the benefit of all our pupils.

“Miss Ainsley is fully committed to leading across the two schools, and we have every confidence that the outcome will be prosperous for us all.

“With nearly 250 children in total, their wellbeing and happiness is in out hands. We have taken time to ensure this is the best choice for both schools.”

Karl Fairley, Broomhaugh’s chairman of governors, said: “I would like to acknowledge and thank Jen Stephenson for her exceptional service and dedication to the education of the children of Broomhaugh First School.

“Members of the governing body at Broomhaugh are excited to move forward with Corbridge First School to this shared education team.”

Paul Rickeard, director of education at the Diocese of Newcastle, said: “We believe this is a model which could become much more widespread, particularly among smaller schools, over the coming years.”