Children’s achievement marked with a celebration as Sunderland High School reaches its last day

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A surprise party helped pupils mark their last day together, as 132 years of history came to a close at a Sunderland school.

Sunderland High School shut for the last time today, with the remaining 39 nursery children and 35 pupils saying their last farewell to their teachers and fellow pupils.

Sunderland High School Junior School final day.

Sunderland High School Junior School final day.

Balloons in the school colours of red, white and blue were released by senior school students at Langham Tower during their day.

The parents of the 16 children in Year 6 decided to mark the day with a surprise party, with all nine girls and seven boys gaining a 100% pass rate in their SATs exams.

A bus took the class to Gravity Force trampolining centre and then to Liberty Browns for a meal.

Head of curriculum Judy Charalambous, who is retiring after 40 years in teaching, spent almost 20 years at the private school, whose famous former pupils included Kate Adie and Denise Roberston.

It’s quite emotional, and it’s been hard for the children, but they will all stay friends.

Mum Joanne Anderson

She wrote each of the year 6 pupils a poem, as she has for each of the group during her time in the job.

“It’s a sad day that the school is closing and more sad that they are leaving with excellent results” she said.

“They all got 100% in all subjects and the national average is 53%.

“The closure has been a distraction, but the children have pulled out all the stops and have done extremely well over the last two terms.

Sunderland High School Junior School final day.

Sunderland High School Junior School final day.

“The staff have also continued to work tremendously hard and have encouraged all the children to reach beyond their potential.”

Among the parents was Joanne Anderson, who runs Siblings Nursery in Wessington Way, whose son Jamie, 11, will go to Argyle House when the new academic year begins.

The mum said: “It isn’t just a school, it’s been like an extended family.

“The party has been a surprise because they’ve all worked so hard.

Sunderland High School Junior School final day.
Head of year 6, Mrs Judy Charalambous

Sunderland High School Junior School final day. Head of year 6, Mrs Judy Charalambous

“The girls and boys, they all get along so well.

“It’s quite emotional, and it’s been hard for the children, but they will all stay friends.”

Law firm boss Paula Cullen is mum to Luke, 14, who moved to Argyle House at Easter so he could settle into his GCSE subjects, and Tom, 11, who left on the school’s final day.

She said: “I chose this school so they could start in nursery and go all the way through to sixth form, to give them stability in their education, and that obviously hasn’t happened.

“It’s been incredibly sad.

“It has been ideal for them, the teachers have been amazing and there’s no other school in Sunderland which has the same facilities as they do here, which was a major factor, and the staff have had such warmth, it’s been like being part of a big family.

Sunderland High School Junior School final day.

Sunderland High School Junior School final day.

“The boys have been devastated.

“Luke had to leave because Argyle House doesn’t offer the same GCSE options, but Tom loved it so much he wanted to stay until the bitter end.”

A celebration day was held on Saturday to bring the school community together to mark its closure.

Bosses at United Church Schools Trust, the charity which ran the school, announced at the start of this year it planned to close it because of falling pupil numbers and heavy financial losses.

A campaign led by parents to keep it open did not manage to save it.

Sunderland High School Junior School final day.

Sunderland High School Junior School final day.

Sunderland High School Junior School final day.
Head of year 6, Mrs Judy Charalambous

Sunderland High School Junior School final day. Head of year 6, Mrs Judy Charalambous