Hundreds back bid to stop South Shields school becoming an academy

Harton Technology College academy plan protest at The Nook, Prince Edward Road. From left PSA Roger Nettleship and Green Party Shirley Ford
Harton Technology College academy plan protest at The Nook, Prince Edward Road. From left PSA Roger Nettleship and Green Party Shirley Ford

Campaigners took to the streets in a bid to stop a South Tyneside’s schools second bid to gain academy status.

Harton Technology College in South Shields has started a consultation on plans for applying for academy status.

Harton Technology College in South Shields.

Harton Technology College in South Shields.

Parents of youngsters at the Lisle Road school received a text message informing them of the proposals - which were initially rejected by the schools own governors in January 2015.

The school has previously informed the Gazette it does not wish to comment on the proposals.

However, the South Tyneside branch of the Green Party and the South Tyneside Public Services Alliance are against the bid - which would see the school run independently and removed from local authority control.

In protest a petition has been launched and campaigners have been collecting signatures at a stall which they set up at Harton Nook South Shields.

We had dozens of people sign the petition.

Shirley Ford

So far 320 people have backed the campaign.

The Green Party’s Shirley Ford said: “We had a very successful stall with lots of people stopping to find out about the plan to turn our local secondary school, Harton Technology College into an academy.

“We found almost everyone we spoke to agreed that this would be bad for the school, the pupils, the parents, the staff and the other schools in the borough.

“Most people agreed with us that the school is already an excellent school – Ofsted has consistently judged it Outstanding – and that there is no need to change it.

“As one parent with children at the school said ‘as the saying goes – if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it?’.”

The campaign group is planning on hosting more events in the very near future, while the school’s consultation runs until June 30.

Ms Ford said: “We had dozens of people sign the petition to the governors of Harton Technology College, because it is not too late to stop this; the decision lies with the governors of the school.

“They took away leaflets to encourage their family and friends to sign the online version of the petition as well on Change.org.

“We strongly encouraged everyone to email the chair of governors of the school directly to make sure that the Governors know the true strength of feeling against this plan.”

Coun Joan Atkinson, lead member for children and young people previously said: “We are aware of the consultation taking place and would encourage parents to get involved to ensure that their voices are heard.

“We prefer the local authority-maintained model of education because we believe that we are stronger together. School governing bodies already have significant control over their budgets, staff, pupil numbers and almost all policies. Local authorities only offer additional support and guidance when requested.

“In South Tyneside the current model is extremely effective with 95 per cent of Council-maintained schools rated as good or outstanding by Ofsted - well above the national average of 82 per cent.

“We will be following the Government White Paper’s progress through Parliament with interest before giving any specific advice to schools on academy conversion.”