COUNCILLORS in Northumberland will next week make a decision on the fate of a county school with officers having failed to advise on the way ahead.
Northumberland County Council’s executive will on Monday decide between closing Allendale Middle School or making it an academy.
Yet the authority’s officers have concluded following consultation that there is no clear way forward and left the decision to members. Supporters of the school last night argued two thirds of respondents were opposed to the closure option and said that was a mandate to keep it open.
As previously reported by The Journal, the county council announced it was seeking to close the 102-pupil school, which was said to be suffering from falling pupil numbers and financial problems.
The site was recently described as inadequate by Ofsted, leaving council bosses with two options, either the closure or a change to academy status.
A 12-week consultation was launched with a view to the school closing by September.
The proposal has sparked unrest among residents who set up an action group to fight it.
County council bosses have now produced a report to the executive setting out responses to the consultation.
Officers reveal that 141 consultation forms were returned. Sixty-four of those were in favour of the school becoming an academy, while 46 preferred closure and 31 were not in favour of either.
The report to the executive reveals that approximately 80 alternative models were put forward to the council.
It says that some of these could be incorporated within the two options but that the remainder were not “viable”.
The report also reveals how a petition favouring the retention of the middle school was received, signed by 197 people.
It concludes that “no clear view has emerged about the way forward” and leaves it to executive members to decide which of the two options to favour.
Last night, people who have fought the closure voiced disappointment at several aspects of the report.
Parent and former governor Steve Agar said: “Something like two thirds are against closing the school. It is an absolutely clear mandate to the council to keep the school open.”
Fellow parent Clare Shield feared closure would still happen and said: “I just think it was a done deal from the start.”