Protest at gates of South Shields School as fight to keep it open continues

  • The head teacher was told she had three years to turn the school around, and we are not yet at the three years mark.

Parents, pupils, teachers and union officials joined forces in protest in a bid to save an under-threat school.

Around 100 people braved the rain in solidarity in the fight to save South Shields School from potential closure.

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

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

The school was rated ‘inadequate’ by Ofsted inspectors prompting a move to academy status.

However, a sponsor failed to be found and a consultation on its future has now been launched.

This year it recorded its best GCSE results, but by law, South Tyneside Council cannot maintain a school with such a rating.

Earlier today, a crowd gathered outside the school gates in Nevinson Avenue with placards.

Simon Kennedy

They were joined by South Shields MP Emma Lewell-Buck and Beacon and Bents Councillor Angela Hamilton.

Mum Angela Coates from Whiteleas said: “I’m here in support of the school. The headmistress has done a fantastic job and we have some fantastic teachers in the school. My children have come on leaps and bounds, the school has been great for my children.

“When I found out what was happening, I was really upset, my 11-year-old has just gone into the school in September and I’ve got a younger child who will be due to come in, in September and he’s devastated he won’t be able to come into the school.

“There are people working hard trying to get sponsors.”

South Shields School protest over closure with staff, parents and children. Front from left Coun Angela Hamilton,  South Shields MP Emma Lewell-Buck and former pupil James Harkus with school staff and NASUWT representives

South Shields School protest over closure with staff, parents and children. Front from left Coun Angela Hamilton, South Shields MP Emma Lewell-Buck and former pupil James Harkus with school staff and NASUWT representives

Related content: Troubled South Shields School could face closure after failing to find backer

Stephen Brennan, 13, said: “I am utterly disgusted in the council for closing the school. It is an amazing school and all the teachers are amazing. They have been working hard to make the school the best they can.”

His brother Aaron, 11, said: “It has really helped me in all of my subjects. When I moved from the primary school, some of my friends went to Boldon but my close friends came to South Shields School, if I have to move schools, I might lose my friends.”

Simon Kennedy, regional branch of NASUWT teachers union said: “Following a ballot, it was an unanimous decision to take industrial action. All the members are angry that they face losing their jobs and the kids are having their education disrupted. This school is a great place for pupils to learn and the teachers want that to continue.

“The school has had its challenges but they have got through those challenges, it had a 22% increase in results in the summer and was the second most improved school in the North East.

“The head teacher was told she had three years to turn the school around, and we are not yet at the three years mark.

“The ideal outcome is to gain support from the local authority and improvement teams and for Ofsted to come in and take another look at the school.

Read more: Under-threat South Shields School site ‘must be used for education’ even if it closes

“It has had falling numbers due to the threat of closure, but if the school is going to stay open, it can survive.”

South Shields MP Emma Lewell-Buck said: “There are other schools in the country that are in a similar position to South Shields School and they have remained open with support from interim sponsors and the local authority. I think closure is a knee jerk reaction and we need to look at other options to save the school.

A spokesman for the council said: “We encourage all parties to have their say through the formal consultation route, which has been conducted to minimise impact on pupils’ learning. As the consultation is currently underway, it would not be appropriate to comment further.”