Struggling school could merge with successful Sunderland academy

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A HIGH-ACHIEVING academy could soon be taking a poorly performing city school under its wing.

Sandhill View School, which was dubbed by Ofsted as having serious weaknesses, has applied to become part of the Southmoor Academy Trust.

The Grindon Lane school needs a sponsor to become an academy, due to the unfavourable report from education watchdogs, and has asked the Ryhope Road academy to take them on.

The situation has now gone out to consultation with parents being asked to give their views on the possible merger.

Dr Phil Ingram, headteacher at Southmoor, which has been rated as good in every aspect and is opening a sixth form in September, has welcomed the potential move.

He said: “On balance this represents a very positive opportunity for Southmoor and just as when we made other significant changes such as becoming an Academy or gaining a Sixth Form, I am eager to grasp this opportunity for the benefit of everyone at Southmoor as well as the whole community at Sandhill View.

“This represents a very real opportunity to benefit both schools.

“We have begun public consultation on this process and welcome the views of the wider community.”

Dr Ingram said if the move goes ahead the academy trust will work with Sandhill View to raise standards.

He said: “Sandhill View is actually a very strong school in many respects. It has the full support of its community who believe in the school and want to make it as successful as possible.

“Through sound financial management it is a financially secure school with high student numbers.”

If the merger goes ahead then both schools will remain separate organisations with their own distinctive practices and cultures and students will notice few significant differences.

The advantages of becoming a bigger organisation would include greater financial bargaining power, being able to attract and retain good staff, having more resources to work with and being able to offer more opportunities, such as trips and activities, for pupils.

Potential disadvantages could include the complicated situation around Sandhill View being build with private investor money, which has to be paid back and key members of staff from Southmoor having to spend up to half their time at Sandhill.

As part of the consultation, members of the community can email their views by Friday, July 18, to