South Shields School pupils numbers still falling

South Shields School
South Shields School

Extra strain is being piled on a struggling school because parents are pulling their children out in fear of it closing, according to council bosses.

South Shields School was told to convert to an academy last year after being marked “inadequate” by Ofsted inspectors.

Now, after failing to find a suitable academy sponsor, it faces the prospect of being shut down in 2020, with falling pupil numbers threatening its financial viability.

Speaking at a meeting of South Tyneside Council’s cabinet, Coun Moira Smith, cabinet member for Children, Adults and Families, said a continuing drop was further harming the school’s prospects.

She added: “The council wrote to all parents to explain the benefits of their children returning to South Shields School until the time came for them to move.

“Despite that the viability of the school has been rather challenged by the number of in-term transfer requests.”

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The school, in Nevinson Avenue, currently has about 550 pupils on its roll and is expected to be less than half full by 2020/21.

According to a report, 129 transfer requests have been submitted by parents.

Fewer pupils means less funding, which in turn makes it more difficult for the school to keep up with annual payments of £400,000 towards the private finance initiative (PFI) deal which saw the current building built.

A six-week consultation on a proposal to close the school started in September and ended earlier this month.

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At today’s meeting, the cabinet agreed to begin a second round of consultation on November 21 before a final decision is made early next year.

Christine Elliott, who attended the meeting and whose daughter Georgia is in year nine at the school, said she had been left “massively frustrated” by the process.

James Harrison , Local Democracy Reporting Service