HUNDREDS of families left in limbo over a Government funding glitch now know where their children will be going to school.
Sunderland’s new free school, Grindon Hall Christian School, was unable to offer places to children because the Coalition had not handed over the money before the holidays.
This left many Wearside parents in a nightmare situation, waiting to see if their child would be one of the 560 pupils taking up places at the Pennywell school in September.
However, the funding agreement has now been announced and the school has been able to offer places to families.
Chris Gray, principal at the school, said: “We expect to sign the funding agreement in the very near future and this has now enabled us to make provisional offers of places in accordance with our admissions policy. We aim to confirm those offers once the agreement is signed.
“We are pleased that the uncertainty surrounding our opening as a free school has been all but removed. We look forward to welcoming an additional 150 pupils in September.”
Washington and Sunderland West MP Sharon Hodgson, who is also shadow education minister, criticised the government for the situation, but is happy it has now been resolved.
She said: “I am pleased that parents and children are now able to take up places at Grindon Hall, knowing that they will definitely be able to go there in September.
“It was not in any way ideal that the funding agreement has been signed in the summer holidays, but at least now parents will have the certainty they need to make plans and buy uniforms and equipment.”
When the original situation came to light Mrs Hodgson wrote to the Secretary of State for Education, Michael Gove, to demand an urgent investigation and resolution to the uncertainty, as well as a full explanation of the delay, which she said had been a “complete shambles”.
Mr Gray said the school had been completely powerless to offer places until the funding agreement had been secured and it had been a very difficult situation.
He said the school is heavily oversubscribed overall, so there will be scores of youngsters who have applied who will not get a place.
Grindon Hall was given the go-head last year to change from a fee-paying private school to a free school from September, publicly-funded, but free from Sunderland Council control.