‘A fantastic place’: Former staff and pupils’ sadness at Wearside school’s shock closure

Sunderland High School has announced its plan to close.
Sunderland High School has announced its plan to close.
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Former staff and pupils at an independent Sunderland school have expressed their sadness at the news it is to close.

Sunderland High School, which was 16th in the Sunday Times’ top 100 prep schools of 2015, will close its doors at the end of the academic year due to falling pupil numbers and heavy financial losses.

The school, based in Tonstall House, Sunderland, was founded in 1883, and teaches from nursery years up to A-levels.

John Clarke, chief executive of United Church Schools Trust, the charity which runs the school, explained in an open letter to parents on the school’s website that pupil numbers had halved in the last decade.

Now some of those who hold the school close to their heart have told of their sadness at its imminent closure.

Writing on the Echo’s Facebook page, Rachel Elizabeth said: “This school is a fantastic place – everyone is like family and so supportive.

“The kids are amazing and results are fabulous. Best Independent school in Sunderland and the only school in the NE to feature in the top 20 Prep schools in the UK (placed 14th).

“Yet because of money it is having to close. 130 years of history to be put to bed, by a south-based organisation.

“I am joining the fight to find some way of preserving the school as it does not deserve to be closed.”

Stewart Hay added: “Very sad news, my son attended Sunderland High, it is a very good school with first class teaching.”

Peter Hogan posted: “I was at SHS from 1995 to 2000. I loved working there and find it so hard to comprehend it is coming to a close. A great pity. My heat goes out to the staff, pupils and parents.”

Sophie Christine Burlinson said: “I worked here for my work experience in 2011 in the nursery I loved it! Shame really the staff and kids were lovely.”

Karen Scott added: “My son went there from Tonstall school x good school x such a shame.”

Lucy Banwell posted: “I spent 7 great years there and met some fabulous friends. So very sad x.”

Joyce Snaith said: “Very sad news to hear this news today my son and daughter both attended this school from a very young age and received an excellent education.”

Kate Richardson added: “Very sad I completed a placement at this school the staff, school and kids are lovely it would be such a shame to see this school close.”

Jane Stephenson posted: “I am not a private school person but this is a good part of Sunderland, if something is good then it should stay. It’s not all about money it’s about the future of our young people.”

Meanwhile, Vicki Redmond questioned the lack of a public consultation.

She said: “A very sad situation for all involved... Interested to hear what the United church schools group has to say at their meetings.. Questions need to be raised on why no public consultation in the north took place.”

Keith Rowe added: “Maybe if fees were not so high the classes would be fuller.

“Must be tons of borderline folk who would have loved to have sent their children to a good independent school such as this one but not enough prosperity around Sunderland to maybe have enough folk with the disposable income to pay.

“Shame but probably a sign of the city-wide times. One working half of Sunderland pays for the other half unfortunately. Hope they find a way to save it.”