"Everyone has been totally blindsided": Angry parents react to news of Sunderland High School closure

Nigel Marston and Dr Kerry Benton both have children studying at Sunderland High School
Nigel Marston and Dr Kerry Benton both have children studying at Sunderland High School
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Parents and students have been left reeling from the shock announcement that Sunderland High School is to close.

The Wearside independent school, which employs 75 staff, is due to shut its doors at the end of the academic year, bringing 130 years of history to an end.

Pupil numbers have fallen from 580 to fewer than 290 over the last ten years, while the charity which runs the school says it was set to make a six-figure loss this year despite “significantly” subsidising its finances over the last five years.

But while the United Church Schools Trust (UCST) insists supporting staff and students is now the main focus, parents say they were not consulted in any way and want to fight the closure.

And there was anger outside the school gates last night among parents as the news continued to sink in.

Dr Kerry Benton, a Ryhope-based GP and mum-of-four, said one of her sons had received a message on his xBox asking his mum to check the school’s website.

“She added: “It’s just disgraceful. We’ve only been here six months, we relied on the school to plan our working day and noone mentioned six months ago that they might close.

“It’s a lovely school and we are very, very disappointed. The children are upset as they have a lot of friends here.”

Nigel Marston, from High Barnes, has an eight-year-old son Ben studying at the school and said parents had learned about the closure via the school’s website..

He said: “Lots of parents are angry. The school has a long tradition of education, it’s a nice school.

“It’s not a shock as some of the classes had a low number of children, so it doesn’t surprise me. I don’t think there is a lot we can do in this situation.”

One parent, who did not wish to be named, said the parents have not been given any chance to come up with a solution.

She said: “Everyone has been totally blindsided. We were not consulted or asked what we wanted to do to help keep the school open, if we were willing to pay more fees, or create a body to take it over.

“This is a fantastic school and parents do not want it to close.”