Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

MP Calls for Schools to Work Together; 'Demoralised' Teachers Need Some Support

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

MP Calls for Schools to Work Together; 'Demoralised' Teachers Need Some Support

Article excerpt

Byline: Paul Tully

ANORTHUMBERLAND MP has called for closer working between the four high in his constituency, saying teachers are "demoralised and demotivated" by current working conditions.

Hexham MP Guy Opperman has suggested Ponteland, Prudhoe and Haydon Bridge high schools, plus Queen Elizabeth High in Hexham, should form a federation, in which the schools can have a joint governing body and share staff. The four schools cover an area of over 1,100 square miles, but the Conservative MP believes working together and pooling resources could be the way ahead. His proposals were last night given a cautious welcome by one of the school's headteachers, but teaching unions called his intervention "strange".

Speaking in the House of Commons, Mr Opperman said headteachers are nervous about applying for academy status, which sees them opting out of council control.

Yesterday he told The Journal: "I don't want to start the hare running but longer-term it would have been nice if the schools could have gone for academy status. I don't think that will happen.

"But there is no question that you can federate part of the schools. It would give them a better financial basis."

Mr Opperman said he believed teachers were demoralised and demotivated by "the legacy of a national curriculum designed by ideologues and policed to a certain extent by bureaucrats." He added: "There are many examples of constant changing of curriculum, constant difficulties with discipline and constant lack of support which has got to teachers." Mr Opperman's suggestions yesterday earned a cautious welcome from Ponteland High School headteacher Stephen Prandle, who serves on the national headteachers' steering group for the Specialist Schools and Academies Trust. Mr Prandle said: "I would say that at this stage nothing is ruled out. Northumberland is a very large area to be thinking about a federation, but there are some interesting debates to be had. …

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