Closure-threatened school goes it alone as academy

Monkton Junior School is to become the second Academy in South Tyneside. Head teacher Stuart Johnson.
Monkton Junior School is to become the second Academy in South Tyneside. Head teacher Stuart Johnson.

A PRIMARY school threatened with closure last year is now set to become South Tyneside’s second academy.

Monkton Junior School in Simonside, South Shields, will become an academy from April 1, which means it will be directly funded by the Government and managed independently from local authority control.

It comes 13 months after the former Whitburn C of E Comprehensive School in Whitburn, became Whitburn C of E Academy.

Monkton headteacher Stuart Johnson says the school in Dame Flora Robson Avenue applied for the status to “safeguard its future”.

He said: “We are delighted that we have been successful and are looking forward to a smooth transition to becoming an academy.

“It was about maintaining education on our site for our children, and we are confident that we have now done that.

“We wanted to safeguard our future.”

Monkton Junior School had been earmarked for closure as part of South Tyneside Council’s Transform Our Primary School (Tops) scheme, which was scrapped in October last year because of Government funding cuts.

The project would have seen Monkton Junior, Monkton Infant and Lord Blyton primary schools close in 2014.

They would have merged into a new building on the Lord Blyton site in Wenlock Road, South Shields.

Mr Johnson added: “Our school was under threat until as recently as October last year.

“We were not happy about it, and the parents and families of our children were not happy about it.

“We had to think about what we could do to save our school, and our governors had to think ahead. We did an extensive consultation and now we are becoming an academy.”

Mr Johnson said the new status will not affect the day-to-day running of the school, and he said the new academy would continue to use local authority services.

He explained: “Some academies buy services from different places, but most of ours are provided by the local authority, such as human resources, payroll, finance, and school meals.

“We are not going to change this, or the way we run the school.”

Monkton Junior caters for 140 pupils and, employs 20 staff, including eight teachers.

It was rated as ‘good’ by Ofsted after its most recent inspection in 2008.

On Wednesday, the Gazette reported that none of the borough’s 44 primary schools will be forced to convert to academy status.

They have not been included on the Government’s list of 200 failing primary schools which will become academies in a bid to drive up standards.

Twitter: @shieldsgazjoe