Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Joy and Despair on Decision Day

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Joy and Despair on Decision Day

Article excerpt

Byline: By Dave Black

Celebrations were under way last night after delighted campaigners won their battle to save two popular Northumberland schools from closure.

Parents at 23-pupil Linton Village First School and at Coulson Park First School in nearby Ashington wept tears of joy after council chiefs backed down and agreed they should stay open.

But on a day of wildly mixed emotions there was anguish for parents, governors and staff at Ashington's Alexandra Middle School after county councillors decided to press ahead with proposals to close it.

They too were in tears outside County Hall in Morpeth after losing the first round of their fight to keep the 204-pupil school open.

All three schools were earmarked for closure by Northumberland County Council four months ago in the first phase of a five-year cost-cutting drive aimed at reducing the number of schools in the county and getting rid of thousands of empty classroom places.

Yesterday the county's executive ended the agony for parents at Coulson Park and Linton by formally dropping the closure plans in the face of widespread community opposition.

Last night one parent said the decisions offered hope to other schools in Northumberland.

But father-of-two Brian English, spokesman for the parents at Coulson Park, said he hoped education officials would now examine all possible alternatives before causing more heartache by recommending any other closures.

Executive members ruled that Alexandra Middle School should close to improve the learning opportunities and environment for pupils, many of whom have special educational needs.

Education officials will now examine ways in which Linton First can be "federated" with nearby Ellington First School or another local school in a pilot scheme which would involve sharing resources and possibly staff. …

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