New Sunderland school wants to be the biggest and the best

Steve Williamson, headteacher of the new Northern Saints CE Primary School (l) with architect, Peter Coote and children modelling the new uniform.
Steve Williamson, headteacher of the new Northern Saints CE Primary School (l) with architect, Peter Coote and children modelling the new uniform.
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AS well as being the biggest, a new Wearside primary school is also aiming to be the best.

When Northern Saints CE Primary School opens its doors in September, it will be Sunderland’s largest primary school with a roll of 525 pupils.

Work is already underway on the £1million transformation of the current Hylton Red House Primary School premises to create the new school, with the merger of Bishop Harland CE Primary.

Headteacher Steve Williamson said it is hugely exciting times for staff and pupils at both schools.  

He said although a Church of England school, the Diocese of Durham is keen to ensure that Northern Saints remains a primary school for the Red House community.

Mr Williamson said: “We will not be a selective school – children from families of all faiths, or none, will be welcome. We are very much about serving our community.”

The changes to the current school will include building a glass fronted hall and dining area, a complete renovation of classrooms, an ICT suite, a new pedestrian area and upgraded play facilities.

Northern Saints CE Primary School, named after the six northern saints, Oswald, Margaret, Hild, Cuthbert, Aidan and The Venerable Bede, will also be the first in Sunderland to offer free meals to all children, which will be for the first term and then subsidised after that, and also to buy every child a school uniform, which will include a blazer and tie.

Mr Williamson said: “The diocese is keen to support families in the area as much as they can. Providing the uniforms will cost in the region of £15,000.”

Money for the transformation of the current premises has been split three ways between Sunderland City Council, The Diocese of Durham and the schools themselves.

The headteacher said: “We won’t be able to get everything we want at first, it will be a rolling programme after that. But our main aims are to make sure the pupils and the community have what they need. To start with, I won’t even have an office.”

Once up and running, Mr Williamson said he hopes the school will be open and in use to people in the area every day, including weekends and the children will be heavily involved with the community.

He said: “The pupils will have community jobs to do, such as litter picking or helping pensioners with their gardens and we will have an eco garden for them to work in. We want our children to be inspired and when we have our first Ofsted inspection, we aim to be outstanding.”

Mr Williamson said there will be a lot of partnership working, including the school taking on four apprentices via Sunderland College, running a book club with Sainsbury’s, activity adventures with the Outward Bound Trust and working with Seven Stories to create fantastic displays in the corridors.