‘I can’t believe the disregard shown to these children’ - parents slam plans for South Shields School

South Shields School protest over closure with staff, parents and children.
South Shields School protest over closure with staff, parents and children.

Parents have reacted with anger to the news that their children may have to travel any of the borough’s eight schools if South Shields School is closed.

South Tyneside Council has issued a statutory notice for the proposed closure of the school, in Nevinson Avenue.
It says there are eight alternative secondary schools in South Tyneside and there are no plans to boost pupil places at schools nearest to South Shields School should it close.

The school is facing the prospect of closure on August 31, 2020, following its failure to convert to an academy.

Parents, pupils and the public are being a chance to have their say on the proposals before a decision is made in the New Year.

The eight alternative schools in the borough are Harton Academy, Mortimer Community College, St Wilfrid’s RC College, Whitburn Church of England Academy, Boldon Comprehensive School, Jarrow School, Hebburn Comprehensive School and St Joseph’s Catholic Academy.

The public notice read: “It is proposed to phase implementation of the closure and all displaced pupils will be offered a school place at alternative schools in the area which have available places.

“There are eight alternative secondary schools in South Tyneside.

“There is no intention to increase the number of places at the nearest alternative schools, as there are sufficient surplus place available across the borough.

“It is recognised that displaced pupils will need to make new journeys to school and some pupils may have further to travel.
“It is anticipated that pupils will walk, cycle or use public transport to travel to alternative schools.”

But concerned parents say they feel confused at the possibility their child could go to any of the eight schools saying that they believed there were initially only told they had two choices.

Parent Ian Kerton said: “I’m a parent of a year 10 child and I am angered and confused, as in the first consultation phase we were told there was only two choices of Boldon and Mortimer and now they’re saying there is eight.

“My son in Year 10 is at a critical time in his education and in phase one they said Year 10 and Year 11 would see out their education at South Shields School and now they’re saying Year 10 may move?”

Commenting on the news, a member of the public said: “I can’t believe the disregard to these little people whose education is in jeopardy.”

Another said: “The school has not long been built.”

South Tyneside Council said that they have not yet discussed alterative schools with parents and confirmed that parents can express a preference for any other secondary school.

A council spokesman said: “We have identified Boldon and Mortimer as the two closest schools with sufficient places, but parents can also express a preference for any other secondary school if they wish to do so, although not all will have places available in the relevant year groups.

“We have not had any discussions with parents as yet about alternative schools and in fact our advice is not to move schools at this stage.”

South Shields School was ordered to become an academy last year following an ‘inadequate’ inspection by schools watchdog Ofsted.

However, it was unable to find a suitable academy sponsor to allow it to complete this due to viability concerns, mainly relating to falling pupil numbers.

At the start of the academic year the school had about 550 pupils roll and was predicted to be less than half full by 2020/21, if it stayed open.