WISE Academies would like to thank everyone who took the time to respond to our recent consultation around the future of school organisation in Haltwhistle. Responses were returned by post, by e-mail and through an on-line consultation form that was provided.
Most of the responses that we received were from parents/carers but, being a public consultation we also received responses from other members of the public, other schools, staff, the Diocese of Newcastle, Haltwhistle Town Council and Northumberland County Council.
The feedback received was most helpful and all comments made by respondents were considered by the Trustees of WISE Academies at their meeting on 13th December 2018.
Two options were set out in the consultation document. These were:-
Option 1 – No change (retain existing First and Middle Academies)
Option 2 – Discontinue the Middle Academy and extend the age range of the First Academy to offer primary provision on the Haltwhistle site.
Taking account of all responses received from all parties, over 70% of respondents expressed a preference for option 2.
The Trustees particularly recognise the importance of taking parental views into account in any consultation exercise and it is notable that a sizeable majority of parents who responded to the consultation exercise preferred option 2. This is highly significant, as parents recognise the opportunity that exists to create a sustainable primary setting to serve the community.
Based on the response to the consultation the Trustees of WISE Academies have therefore agreed to move forward with option 2 and will make an application to the Department for Education to close Haltwhistle Middle Academy alongside an application to extend the age range of Haltwhistle First Academy. Subject to Secretary of State approval the practical effects of this will begin from September 2019.
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WISE Academies representatives will now be working with both academies, the Local Authority and other providers of education in the area to prepare a clear transition plan. Parents and carers can therefore expect to receive detailed information in the spring term about the next steps in preparing for this change.
In the interim, leaders of WISE Academies will also be working closely with the Local Authority and Department for Education to seek the maximum possible investment in the site, as we share parents’ aspiration for high quality facilities to be provided for the Haltwhistle community.