Plans to merge two Sunderland schools

Bishop Harland Church of England Primary School - Red House Estate, Sunderland.
Bishop Harland Church of England Primary School - Red House Estate, Sunderland.
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PLANS to merge two Sunderland schools will be discussed by councillors this week.

Members of Sunderland City Council’s school organisation committee will be asked to approve the proposal to discontinue Hylton Red House and Bishop Harland CE primaries.

The move will involve replacing the two schools with one Church of England school on the existing Hylton Red House site in Rotherham Road.

Since 2010, Steve Williamson, headteacher at Hylton Red House has been responsible for both schools and they have already formed a soft federation, which involves a close working relationship between teaching staff and governors.

Together, the schools are 164 places down on their maximum capacity, which is a surplus of 25 per cent, meaning they are also facing challenges to their budgets.

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

Consultations have been carried out among staff, parents, pupils and others connected with both primary schools and if members of the committee approve the proposals at the meeting on Thursday, January 31, funding will be needed to upgrade the Hylton Red House site.

It is expected about £330,200 will be needed to revamp the existing Hylton Red House Primary building, including structural, heating, electrical and sustainability work.

And a further £30,000 will be needed to improve access to the site.

A report to the meeting says: “In approving the proposals future concerns around the sustainability of provision in the area would be largely addressed.

“The large number of surplus places across both schools would be removed, with the additional resources that are currently used to support unused space redirected towards resources to improve teaching and learning.

“It is expected that this will enable the progress already seen in the quality of provision at both schools to be maintained.”

Bishop Harland CE Primary is the only CE primary school in north Sunderland and the new proposal would enable the Church of England to maintain a presence in the community.

Sunderland City Council owns the buildings and playing fields at the Hylton Red House Primary School site and on the Bishop Harland site the council owns the playing fields and the Diocese of Durham owns the buildings.

If the merger goes ahead there would be a swap with the council taking ownership of the current Bishop Harland school buildings and in turn ownership of the Hylton Red House school buildings would transfer to the Diocese.