School feels the heat in closure row

CAUGHT COLD ... Forest View Primary School has come under fire after it closed on Monday morning without notifying parents.
CAUGHT COLD ... Forest View Primary School has come under fire after it closed on Monday morning without notifying parents.

ANGRY parents blasted a South Tyneside school for not informing them when it was forced to close for a day.

Forest View Primary was caught cold by a heating system failure at the building on Monday morning – but parents say they weren’t notified that lessons were cancelled for the day.

One angry parent accused the school of “having no communication skills whatsoever”.

The school has now written to parents and carers to apologise and says it has carried out a full review of procedures to avoid any repeat.

Headteacher Cheryl Ward closed the school at about 9.30am, placing a notice on the school website and contacting local radio stations to announce the news, but parents told the Gazette they were not told their kids were being sent home.

One parent, who asked not to be named, said she only learned her child would not be at school from a call made by a local shop worker.

She said: “I left our home with my three-year-old daughter, to take my nine-year-old girl to school. I left my daughter with her friends on Rembrandt Avenue, after saying goodbye, and she walked into the school grounds.

“I then went to Whiteleas shops and then home. About 20 minutes later, at about 9.30am, I received a telephone call, from a lady who works in the local shops where I had just been, to tell me there were children coming home from school, and she asked me if my daughter had come home.

“Straight away, I rang the school to be informed that it was closed, and I then asked why I hadn’t been informed by them, and the lady said they had only just found out that the heating wasn’t working.

“If I hadn’t received that telephone call from the local shop, I’d have never known the school was closed.

“I immediately went back to the school to collect my daughter, and I asked a member of staff if the school would re-open today, and I was told “we don’t know”.

“I then asked if someone would telephone me to let me know, and I was told to check the school website.

“I am disgusted. All parents should have been notified by the school of any closures, and if this wasn’t possible before school hours, then all children should have been taken into school for parents then to be contacted, as yesterday there were kids running all over Whiteleas with no parents.”

Another parent, who also asked to remain anonymous, said; “It’s just not acceptable. Thankfully my son was able to go to his nan’s house nearby, but what would’ve happened if she wasn’t in.

“The school didn’t ring parents or emergency numbers. Children were either left to go home on their own or be taken home by other parents who were still at the school at the time.”

The £5.6m facility, which replaced Temple Park Juniors, Temple Park Infants and Albert Elliot primary schools, opened in September last year, after being built under South Tyneside Council’s Transforming Our Primary Schools (Tops) programme, which aims to cut surplus places across the borough.

It has 315 primary places, as well as a 26-place nursery.

Heating to the building was restored by late Monday, with the school re-opening on Tuesday.

A spokesman for Forest View Primary School in Rembrandt Avenue, Whiteleas, South Shields, said: “Safety of our pupils is our highest priority and we have written to parents and carers to apologise for the problems that arose when we had to close the school on Monday.

“With the support of South Tyneside Council we have carried out a review of our closure procedures to ensure this does not happen again.”