TEACHERS at a closure-threatened school have sent messages of support to campaigners after being barred from attending public meetings.
Two unnamed members of staff at Allendale Middle School in Northumberland sent letters to a meeting in the town to give their backing to the Save our School cause.
Under their contracts of employment, they were not allowed to personally attend.
But parish councillor Marc Hydleman said: “Both of them are experienced teachers living locally – and one is the parent of three children who went through Allendale Middle School.
“Their letters of support were read out to the meeting, and drew a very positive reaction.” Allendale Middle School head teacher, Susan Hickey, who took over in 2010, refused to comment.
A groundswell of opinion is rising in the village following the shock revelation of proposals to consult on the school’s closure, which would save £107,000 a year.
If agreed, the move would effectively set up a two-tier education system among schools in the Haydon Bridge Partnership, with pupil age-intakes being adjusted in local primary and high schools to take in the 137 pupils who would be displaced after the middle school closure in September 2013.
Under the current proposals, Haydon Bridge High would add 11 to 13-year-olds to its 13 to 18 roll, and Shaftoe and Whitfield Firsts would add nine to 11-year-olds to their under-nine registers.
A 12-week consultation is set to begin next week if agreed at a meeting of Northumberland County Council’s executive in Morpeth on Monday.
People in Allendale and surrounding areas see the move as a possible shift back towards the two-tier education programme many believe the council wants. But Hexham county councillor Derek Kennedy said: “When the Lib Dems came into control here, we said we would not re-open the old two-tier/three-tier argument.
“It was absolutely awful, the big fights there were between parents and schools and councillors.”
Council leader Jeff Reid says the choice facing Allendale Middle School could come down to closure or taking on academy status, as the Department for Education has suggested.
Coun Reid warned other schools in the local partnership could then be “sucked in”.
But local Tory county councillor Colin Horncastle insists Allendale Middle School could stand alone as an academy.
Allendale Middle is facing major financial difficulties, falling pupil numbers, and a second adverse Ofsted report in three years.
Campaigners are awaiting the result of Monday’s executive meeting before deciding their next moves at a second public meeting to be held in St Cuthbert’s Church Hall, Allendale, on Tuesday evening.