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Ponteland Online News has a number of contributing authors, all of whom will add their own posts on various aspects of village life, from the housing market to events and public meetings. If you are involved in a business or organisation, be it a school, church or a club in the Ponteland area and would like to contribute to the blog on a regular basis or just from time to time please email Ponteland Online Admin You must put the story title in the email subject line and the story itself in the main body of the email, add any picture attachments and send as normal.

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Monday, March 16, 2009

Credit Crisis Hits Pupil Numbers

THE head at one of the country’s top-performing state middle schools claims the credit crunch has left it under-subscribed for the first time in almost a decade.

Ponteland Community Middle School, in Callerton Lane, Northumberland, still has places to offer new pupils starting this September.

The fall in the number of new applicants is being blamed on the current economic crisis and the struggling housing market, especially in affluent areas.

Headteacher Caroline Pryer says the credit crunch has made it harder for families to buy new homes in wealthier areas like Ponteland and Darras Hall. The shortfall comes despite the school being described as “outstanding” in an Ofsted report last year, the highest rating government inspectors can give, and being ranked in the top 5% nationally.

However, Dr Pryer says “every cloud has a silver lining” and is pleased the school can now offer places to children outside the usual catchment area.

She said: “Normally we are overwhelmed with families wanting to send their children here, but not this year.

“It’s a combination of factors, including demographic changes outside our control and the state of the housing market.

“But that is actually good news for people outside the area who want to send their children to one of the North East’s premier state schools.

“We will be able to say ‘yes’ to children who normally we would not be able to consider at all and delighted to be able to offer small classes and the facility to personalise the teaching and learning.”

Ponteland Community Middle School is one of the country’s biggest middle schools, with around 600 children aged between nine and 13.

Parent Tracey West lives in Newcastle but has sent both of her children, Courtney and Bradley, to the school. Bradley is now attending Ponteland High School and is predicted to achieve A* grades in his GCSEs.

She said: “Sending my two boys to Ponteland Community Middle School was one of the best things we have done. The boys made friends for life as the school gave them an excellent foundation for friendships and academic achievement.

“There has never been a day when they didn’t want to go to school. All the teachers are interested in the children and dedicated to them.”

The Mayor of Castle Morpeth Borough Council, Councillor Irene Brumwell, is also a governor at the school. She said: “I’ve known this school since it opened and all three of my children attended.

“It has very high standards. I have been a governor for 12 years and have enjoyed every minute.”

Source: JournalLive