Parents back free school put into special measures

Grindon Hall Christian School in Sunderland.
Grindon Hall Christian School in Sunderland.
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FAMILIES have voiced their support for Grindon Hall Christian School after inspectors raised a raft of concerns.

The Sunderland school has been put into special measures by Ofsted following a visit which led to it to highlight a number of areas for improvement, including its management, sixth form provision and the behaviour and safety of pupils.

Headteacher Chris Gray has hit back at the assessment and is lodging an official complaint.

As parents arrived to drop off their children for classes, many spoke out about the report and to back the school.

Several said their youngsters had been upset by the claims and do not recognise the former private school discussed in the document.

A petition could be prepared by parents to hand into Downing Street to fight any suggestion it closes.

Jackie Walton, 44, is mum to students Jessica, 13, and Sam, nine, attend the school after starting at St Anne’s Primary, but moved to the Free School to give them a continuous education up to sixth form.

She said: “They have excelled here in all areas.

“Jess is getting over and above her targets for her age and all the staff have been great.

“What Ofsted have said, I’ve never heard anything about and all the parents I spoke to last night said the same and nobody is happy about what’s been said.

“They have said it’s a lot of rubbish.

“What I’ve read does not reflect the education we see here.

“We stand by the school 100 per cent.”

Wendy Carroll, from High Barnes, is mum to Oliver, 13, who has attended since he started school, and she also drops off children she looks after as part of her Pipz Kids childminding service.

The 48-year-old, who formerly worked as an early years practitioner before launching her business, said: “I was a bit taken aback by it and I like how the headteacher has fought his corner.

“We’ve seen an increase in the number of pupils and there’s a good mix, as there should be in every school, and I don’t think any school should be exclusive, there should be a variety of cultures, religions and abilities and all should be helped to achieve.

“It has been going through a transition period. It’s gone from being independent to working as a Department for Education school, it’s going to have to be run by its rules.

“I can’t speak highly enough of the primary run by Peter Lawson. You can see he does it with vibrancy and enthusiasm when he’s teaching we think he’s super.

“It’s a Christian school and has a Christian ethos, but that’s never been imposed on me or Oliver.

“We chose this school because it was homely and nurturing.

“Oliver got the report up on his iPad and we read it and we don’t understand the reasons behind it.”

*Are you a parent of children at the school who would like to share their views? Call Fiona Thompson on 0191 501 7136.