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Last Updated: Tuesday, 19 July, 2005, 07:07 GMT 08:07 UK
Unique solution for island pupils
Holy Island causeway - freefoto.com
Holy Island is cut off from the mainland twice a day
Pupils living on an island off the Northumberland coast are to get free independent education.

Holy Island, or Lindisfarne, is cut off from the mainland twice a day when the sea flows across the causeway.

Children aged nine and over face difficulties getting to and from middle and high schools on the mainland.

Now, two pupils leaving Holy Island first school will attend Longridge Towers School, near Berwick, where termly fees of 2,200 will be paid.

The school will pay for the education costs, while Northumberland County Council will fund the boarding element on the nights the children cannot get home.

It is a unique solution to a unique situation
Trevor Doughty, Northumberland County Council

Northumberland's Head of Children's Service Trevor Doughty said: "Although the council is happy to provide transport, sometimes the children would have to be picked up at 0500 BST and might not return until 2100 BST, and there is no safe or practical way to get children off the island other than the causeway."

The council has been boarding children from Holy Island for many years and had its own boarding facility, but this closed down because there are so few children on the island.

Since then, the council has paid for children to board at Longridge Towers while attending local authority middle schools in the county.

However, parents were concerned at the disruption of studying at one school and boarding at another.

Choice for parents

Mr Doughty said: "Longridge came up with the suggestion as a gesture of goodwill to Holy Island that they would provide education free on a bursary basis with the council maintaining its commitment to pay for the boarding.

"Because of the school's generosity we were in the fortunate position to offer parents this choice."

Just two children are affected this summer, and a small number of children coming through the system in future years.

Mr Doughty said: "We can't find another situation like it, not only in the UK but in Europe.

"There are lots of small islands but none with the situation of the tides and causeway. So it is a unique solution to a unique situation."

Islanders fear isolation
23 Sep 02 |  England

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