University hope for town is almost impossible dream
THERE is little hope of a training college for young people in Berwick in the near future and the overheads involved in bringing a university make the dream almost impossible.
The claim was made by Wyndham Rogers-Coltman who recently stood down after 20 years as chairman of governors at Berwick Academy.
In a talk to Berwick Probus Club, he revealed a lack of young people in the area meant the school roll was struggling to reach 800 whereas a few years ago it was 970. That affected funding and put strains on the system.
He explained the early difficulties when the area switched to a three-tier comprehensive education system. The ethos changed because many teachers moved from the grammar school to the high school with little knowledge of the system.
A new head teacher, Carey Chidwick, immediately realised the need for restructuring and with the backing of a new deputy in Ian Murray this was achieved. The work has carried on under the headship of Stephen Quinlan.
The decision to become an academy came because it was independent, self-governing, funded by the government and run by the community.
It is not an easy process and with it came vital in-house catering and a very good outside contractor for maintenance.
To date he felt it had been a successful move. Running alongside were improvements by the government and exam results improving year by year.
Mr Rogers-Coltman stressed they were trying to provide an inclusive programme mapping out a pathway to leave the students prepared to face outside life.
He praised the decision to specialise in business and enterprise, tackling a weakness in Berwick. It was important and the work experience and contacts with business leaders made a valuable contribution to the young people.
He accepted that another weakness was that in order to go to training college the students had to travel to Ashington and Newcastle and in spite of efforts going back many years this had not been overcome.
One move, possibly into a building in Walkergate, collapsed with the loss of government funding.
Training colleges were a link between childhood and adulthood but he saw little hope of a resolution in the near future.
Referring to the current three-tier system which he did not fully support, he believed children were changing from first to middle schools at a critical stage of their young lives.
Middle schools did their best but he felt youngsters should be encouraged to stretch and stretch, making the utmost of their ability. Creating a seamless passage through school was crucial and this would be a top priority for new academy principal Alexis Widdowson who arrives in April.
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Weather for Berwick-Upon-Tweed
Sunday 19 May 2013
Temperature: 8 C to 15 C
Wind Speed: 9 mph
Wind direction: North east
Temperature: 8 C to 16 C
Wind Speed: 10 mph
Wind direction: North