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Friday, 25 April 2014

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Head takes early retirement from cash-strapped middle school

MAJOR changes are afoot in the staffing of two of Hexham’s schools.

On September 1, Hexham Middle School headteacher David Watson will take early retirement and Queen Elizabeth High School’s head, Neil Morrison, will become responsible for both schools.

The two schools have already been federated for the past four years in that they share one board of governors.

It has yet to be announced precisely what the new management structure will be, other than the fact current Hexham Middle deputy head Neil Cassidy will lead his school on a day-to-day basis.

A letter sent out to parents via Parent Mail added Mr Morrison would be head of the federation and that staffing arrangements would be put in place to maintain the leadership capacity within Queen Elizabeth High School itself.

A further announcement about what new appointments will entail is expected sometime over the next month.

The letter to parents made it clear the changes had been made against a difficult financial background and it has long been known Hexham Middle is burdened with two major financial problems.

It has been trying to run an expensive campus site inherited from the old grammar and secondary modern schools while at the same time the school roll plummeted.

Numbers have dropped from 700 pupils in the 1990s to around 460 today – and each empty seat leads to another £3,000 drop in funding.

Both Hexham Middle and QEHS are now operating on a deficit licensed by Northumberland County Council.

The letter sent out to parents by chairman of governors Sandra Thompson said: “The aim of the (staffing) change is to ensure that present teaching levels and expertise can be maintained at a time when budgets are under pressure.

“The current financial climate in schools across the country is difficult and the Hexham Federation of Schools is experiencing budget pressures along with many others.

“These pressures have the potential to affect staffing ratios and provision for children.

“A range of ways forward has been discussed.

“David Watson, the headteacher of Hexham Middle School, believes the best option would be if he took early retirement and the leadership of both federation schools continued under Neil Morrison, the headteacher of Queen Elizabeth High School.”

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