Official response from Tynedale Green Party to proposed changes to schooling in West Northumberland.
Northumberland County Council has proposed three options for changes to schooling in the west of the county, all of which would result in the closure of multiple schools. Tynedale Green Party considers none of these options to be acceptable; we strongly oppose these plans.
Every child has the right to a high-quality education in their own local area, decisions about education should never put money ahead of the needs of children. Schools in rural areas face unique challenges, but if the Conservative-run council thinks that school closures are the answer to these challenges then they do not understand the needs of our communities or our young people.
The challenges faced by schools in West Northumberland are a direct result of austerity imposed by this Conservative government. This has been exacerbated by the fragmentation of our education system into academies and multi-academy trusts, introduced by Labour and expanded by the Conservatives.
Our Conservative MP Guy Opperman has expressed his opposition to the plans. However, given his consistent support for academisation, that it is his party who control the council and his party who have slashed spending on public services it is hard to see how he can make such opposition with a straight-face. His National Funding Formula, which does not take into account the sparse nature of West Northumberland schools and potential increased journey times is not necessarily fit for this particular region.
We all know that services in rural areas are rarely as ‘cost-effective’ as those in cities, but that doesn’t mean that people in the country should have to settle for sub-standard provision. A government that cared for the needs of all its citizens would invest more heavily in rural areas to ensure equity for all. A truly local school is a hub of small village life and crucial in keeping or attracting the young families who make rural communities viable in the long term.
Tynedale Green Party offers them our full support, we encourage parents and concerned residents to become more involved in their local schools an all schools to work together. We urge Northumberland County Council to think again.