A GROUP of parents have set up a community partnership to transform the facilities at a North Tyne middle school which the county council had tried to close.

The Bellingham Middle School Parent Teacher Community Association has been set up to raise funds to support the education of pupils at Bellingham Middle School and involve and support community projects which benefit the school.

The school, was threatened with closure as part of a review of education provision across west Northumberland, but was saved after a schools adjudicator overturned the council’s decision.

However, the middle school remains part of the Haydon Bridge Partnership where a two-tier primary and secondary model has been introduced. Neighbouring first schools Bellingham, Wark, Kielder, West Woodburn and Otterburn will all convert to a primaries in September and the council is planning to remove home to school transport for children outside Bellingham who want to attend the middle school.

At the association’s first AGM in July, Julie Mobberley was appointed chairwoman, Sarah Smith secretary and Annabel Stanners treasurer. The group’s mission statement: ‘we can and we will’ has been adopted to continually look for ways to provide the best learning and social experiences.

Julie, a parent of a child in year 4, said: “We met all of the school children and asked for ideas for specific projects, fund-raising ideas and how they can give back to the community with the aim that any project and fund-raising supported their education.

“There has been a lack of funding support at Bellingham Middle School, but you only need to look at the recent above average SATS results, which are testament to the school’s ability, to recognise its potential.”

Work has started on renovating the school’s changing rooms with plans to improve the outdoor playground and multi-use games area with the help of local contractors in the future.

“The children are driving the agenda and deciding where the investment should go,” said Sarah. “The focus is to make the school open to the whole community.”

Julie added: “The acting headteacher is very supportive and keen for our investment in enhancing the learning experience.” The group will be at the Bellingham Show on August 31.