It would take at least seven years for South Shields School to recover and become financially viable again, if councillors vote to save it.
And even a radical overhaul of the school is unlikely to improve its fortunes, according to South Tyneside Council.
Options considered included:
An ‘all-through’ school with attached primary school – Although this would alleviate some of the debt burden on South Shields School, it was thought it would unfairly be shifted to an attached primary. Also, there is not thought to be enough need for new primary places in the area, while there has been a ‘mixed’ experience of such models nationally.
Shared site with special school – Growing numbers of pupils with special educational needs has created extra demand for places which could be accommodated at South Shields School’s site. But it thought it would be more viable to expand existing special needs schools, while there could be ‘significant financial risk’ for any new school.
Merger with another secondary school – This option is only thought to be possible with Boldon School, but both have PFI (Private Finance Initiative) deals on their current sites which could complicate any merger. Also, it would be difficult to legally justify such a merger because there are spaces for pupils at other schools in the borough.
James Harrison , Local Democracy Reporting Service