Will two become one? Plans for new site to replace two Sunderland schools

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TWO Sunderland primary schools look set for closure to be replaced by a new one.

Consultations are well under way over proposals to shut Bishop Harland Primary School and Hylton Red House Primary School.

If the move is given the go-ahead, a new voluntary aided primary school would be established in the current Hylton Red House Primary buildings, in Rotherham Road.

A report following the first round of consulations will be discussed at a meeting of Sunderland Council’s ruling cabinet today.

Officers are recommending that if cabinet members are satisfied, the consultation responses support the proposal then a statutory notice of the discontinuance of the two schools will be published.

Hylton Red House Primary was inspected by Ofsted in July and found to be a good school and in February Ofsted inspectors reported that Bishop Harland CE School, in nearby Ramilies Road, was satisfactory.

Council education officers say both schools have significant levels of surplus places and if the move goes ahead the new school would open in September 2013.

The current numbers on roll are 143 at Bishop Harland and 330 at Hylton Red House, a total of 473. The number of surplus places is 67 and 97 respectively, a total of 164 between the two schools.

This equates to approximately 25 per cent surplus places.

An earlier report to the cabinet about the schools, said: “Both schools in recent years have faced and dealt with significant challenges in terms of Ofsted Inspection. The surplus places in each school also present budgetary challenges which could impact on the ability to sustain and progress their substantial improvements made to date.”

When Bishop Harland School had difficulty in recruiting a headteacher, the head of Hylton Red House took on the role on a temporary basis.

This has led to a establishing a successful working partnership between the two schools, including some joint learning among the children.

The report said: “The schools have already begun to reap the educational benefits brought about by working together and joining up resources.

“Bringing the two schools together as one school for the community at Red House would make the resulting school sustainable for the future.

“Reducing surplus places and reconfiguring school provision can also have clear educational benefits. An excess of places ties up resources that could otherwise be invested in teaching and learning.”