Anger over decision to close South Shields School

South Shields School is to close in August next year
South Shields School is to close in August next year

Council bosses have come under fire for giving the go-ahead to plans to close South Shields School.

The decision by South Tyneside Council’s ruling cabinet means the school, in Nevinson Avenue, South Shields. and it will close in August 2020.

The school had been facing uncertainty after its failure to convert to an academy last year - a move prompted by an “Inadequate” Ofsted report.

South Tyneside Council say the closure is the result of ‘underlying viability issues’ - including falling pupil numbers and debt.

South Shields School was rated ‘Inadequate’ by schools watchdog Ofsted in 2017 and - because the council cannot legally support a school with that status - attempts were made to convert it to an academy.

A series of issues - including falling pupil numbers and debts attached to the school following a £24m Private Finance Initiative deal - meant it was unable to find a sponsor to make this happen.

Coun Moira Smith, cabinet member for children, young people and families told the meeting: “We don’t underestimate how difficult the process has been for the children and their families and the staff at the school.

“The decision is the final stage of the process. If we go ahead, the decision is final and there is no further step."

Following the decision, the school will close on August 31, 2020.

All current pupils will complete the current academic year with no Year 7 pupils joining in September this year. Pupils due to enter Year 10 will be moved to minimise disruption to their GCSE.

Pupils due to enter Year 11 will be allowed to complete the 2019/20 academic year, as will children in Years 8 and 9.

The decision prompted a huge response from Gazette readers on our Facebook page

Chris Brown wrote: "Sad but we will be paying for it for years. It would have been cheaper to keep it open."

David Hopper asked: "How can this happen? Million spent on this school for it to close within 10 years. Ludicrous."

Agnes George wrote; "This is one of the most ridiculous things. All that money invested in the private sector. Whoever is making these decisions should be shot."

Hayley Bates asked: "Does this mean school boundaries will change? Where will my daughter go in 2021."

Danielle Kane added: Its a disgrace. All that money spent and children having to travel for their education."

Chris Bullock said: "This is nothing to do with our council. This is what happens when a Tory government prefers privatisation rather than publicly run services."

Lee Bond felt the decision was inevitable. He wrote "This decision wasn't made today it was made last year. All they have done is observe the legal process."

Carolyn Tovey added: "It’s the kids I feel for being pushed into the other local schools which will probably be overcrowded."

Tracey Mckenzie wrote: "It is absolutely devastating closing such a great school with an amazing headteacher and staff who should be proud to have an amazing school."

Michelle Irvine added: "Another new school which cost a fortune to build and now closed."

Rob Lawson said: "This is utterly ridiculous. Who came up with such a stupid rule. Academies are a disaster and should be banned."