St Mary's

St Mary's Roman Catholic Church



Consultation on Education in West Northumberland


Hexham has two Catholic schools – Saint Marys First and Saint Joseph’s Middle school, which look after our children's education up to age 13.

You may have read about the proposals for reorganising all education in West Northumberland.  Northumberland County Council and Queen Elizabeth High School have tabled proposals.  These impact on every school in West Northumberland and in all of the parishes within in Heavenfield Partnership. This is something that will affect us all for at least a generation going forward.

The Proposals

Nothing is fixed at present but proposals could include:-

  1. Closure of Haydon Bridge High School
  2. Changing education for our current 3 tier system to 2 tier
  3. Creating a new super high school of up to 2250 pupils based in Hexham served by primary schools, closing a good number of rural church schools and all middle schools.

Whilst we recognise the many difficulties which have led to its current situation, we are very concerned that these proposals could lead to a situation where there is no choice of secondary school other than a huge newly created secondary school located in Hexham.  We feel that the very rural and widely dispersed nature of communities in the Haydon Bridge partnership requires much greater flexibility and awareness of the common good.

How might this affect us

As Catholics we occupy a unique position. Saint Mary’s RC First School and Saint Joseph’s RC Middle School are geographically located in our main town of Hexham but they serve all of the west of Northumberland. Our Heavenfield partnership of parishes covers exactly all of the areas under discussion in the Haydon Bridge High School and Hexham Queen Elizabeth High School catchment areas.

Our two schools serve the whole partnership area, allowing children to access Catholic education up to 13 years old.

More importantly they allow 400 children every day to access a Catholic education – both Catholic and Non-Catholic equally.  You may been at Mass a few weeks ago where the Knights of the Holy Sepulchre explained  a large part of their work was providing schools in the Holy Land for Catholics and other faiths so all can  access education and learn mutual understanding of each other’s differences from  an early age.

You will appreciate that not all of the Catholic children are regular Mass goers so school is the only opportunity the children have to  find out what it is to be a Catholic.

You will have read in the Partnership Newsletter that there has been Catholic education in Hexham since 1832, and our responsibility is to ensure this is provided for future generations.

What have we being doing

We know things will change and our job is to work our way through this for the best outcomes for all.

Just as the church is having to respond to the falling numbers of priests, we have to adapt education in Northumberland to the falling number of school age children, meaning all of the schools have more places than pupils and therefore cannot be maintained.

So we have been working with our  diocese for a number of years now to strengthen provision for Catholic education, and to this end have formed a Hard Federation between our schools with a single governing body for both and a single head teacher.  We have been building better links with high schools – such as Saint Thomas More to provide a route to Catholic education to age 16 or 18 years for those who want to access this.

We will be participating in the Consultation process and responding positively to Northumberland County Council, with our developed thoughts on what a good education provision could look like and be delivered.

However, it is also essential that we maintain very strong links with our local Northumberland High Schools to achieve the best possible outcomes for our children and their families.  Currently in the Hexham Queen Elizabeth High School catchment our middle schools (Saint Joseph’s Middle in Hexham  and Corbridge Middle) perform extremely well and contribute to the excellent standards achieved by the High School. Our preferred option therefore is to maintain this model and thus also retain Catholic education to 13 years in Hexham.

What is your part in all of this

We are not asking for money – it's more than that.

There are five things you can do to help shape what the future can look like:-

  1. Attend the further public forum will take place at Hexham Mart on Saturday, 17th March 2018 between 10:00am and 3:00pm.
  2. Attend Mass at 7:00pm on Wednesday 21st March. At this, the final Heavenfield Partnership Lenten Pilgrimage Mass at St. Mary’s Hexham, Fr.Warren and Executive Headteacher Mrs Fiona Conley will speak to parishioners.
  3. Come to school - 6:30pm Thursday, 22nd March Saint Mary’s and Saint Joseph’s school will host a meeting in Saint Joseph’s school hall for parents and members of the community. Parents will also be informed through school about informal drop-in sessions.
  4. Respond to the County Council on the consultation as parents or individuals interested in ensuring there is a route for Catholic education in this area for generations ahead.
  5. Help with your prayers.

In all of our discussions we really need to pray together to come to the best decisions, not only for our own schools but also for all of the different communities to which we belong. We beg you to pray daily for wisdom and understanding as to how we secure the future for our children. Prayer cards were handed out at Mass on Sunday 11th March (a small supply is still available in church). Please take away one for yourself and for any others who will be willing to pray with us and for us.  Our prayers will join with those of the many other church communities throughout our county.

A Prayer for Schools in West Northumberland

Heavenly Father,

We thank you for our schools and all who live and work in them.

Bless the communities they serve, especially our children and young people,

So all may achieve their full potential to live life to the full.

We pray for the Consultation on Education in the West of Northumberland,

for our Local Authority and all who serve us,

that true wisdom and a desire to serve the common good of all,

may inspire the best outcome for all.

May Christ, the Teacher, inspire all involved in education to

seek the higher gifts and become servants to one another.

We ask this through Christ, Our Lord. Amen


Our Lady, Seat of Wisdom, Pray for us!

Saint Joseph, Pray for us!

Saint Cuthbert, Pray for us!



The consultation document can be accessed here.

Consultation response documents:-

The Hadrian Learning Trust consultation document can be accessed here. The deadline for this is 29th March 2018.

Northumberland County Council consultation document can be accessed here. The deadline for this is 9th April 2018


St Mary's Nursery

St Mary's Nursery Hexham was set up in October 2000 by a board of voluntary directors; initially the brainchild of our late priest Fr Martin Deegan who was 'inspirational' in driving the renovation and set up of the Old Catholic Club, which became St Mary's Nursery.

Please click here to be taken to the St Mary's Nursery website


St Mary's RC First School

St Mary's Roman Catholic First School is a voluntary aided first school, based in Hexham, catering for children from ages of 4 to year 9.

Please click here to be taken to St Mary's website


St Joseph's RC Middle SchoolSt Joseph's Roman Catholic Middle School is a voluntary aided middle school, based in Hexham, catering for students from year 5 to year 8.
The following awards have been presented to St Joseph's:
•    DfES Achievement Award 2000
•    Investors in People 2002; renewed 2005; renewed 2008; renewed 2011
•    Healthy Schools Award 2004; renewed 2007; renewed 2011
•    British Council International School Award 2004; renewed 2007; renewed 2010
•    Leading Aspect Award 2006
•    Eco Schools Bronze Award 2007
•    Eco Schools Silver Award 2007
•    Artsmark Silver Award 2008
•    Specialist Arts College 2008
•    Sportsmark 2008
•    Artsmark Gold Award 2010
•    Young Enterprise Centre of Excellence Award 2011
•    SaBRE Supportive Employer Award 2013
•    Investors in People (Bronze Award) 2014
•    Association for Citizenship Teaching Award 2014

Please click here to be taken to St Joseph's website


St Thomas More Catholic School

St. Thomas More Catholic School is a voluntary aided catholic comprehensive school that caters for student from the age of 11 to 19.

Prospectuses for Sixth Form and Year 9 can be found on the St. Thomas More website.

Please click here to be taken to St Thomas More's website