Parent campaign being launched to save historic city school

Sunderland High School
Sunderland High School
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Plans are underway for a possible buy out of an historic Wearside school which has been earmarked for closure.

Sunderland High School staff, parents and pupils were left stunned at the beginning of the week when news that the school, which has been an iconic part of the city for more than 130 years, is set for closure.

Despite being a high performing independent school, the United Church Schools Trust, UCST, the charity which runs the school, said due to falling pupil numbers they will close Sunderland High School at the end of the academic year.

However, parents and supporters of the school, which employs 75 staff, have rallied together with the hope of taking it over and are urging anyone with the experience to help to go along to a meeting on Sunday.

Pupil numbers at the school, which has a junior site in Ashbrooke Road, and the senior buildings in Mowbray Road, have fallen from 580 to fewer than 290 and UCST said it is set to make a six-figure loss this year despite significantly subsidising its finances over the last five years.

But, parents at the school are currently working on a business plan with a view to saving their beloved school for their children and future generations.

Dawn Pringle, whose daughter, Halle, 13, is a pupil at the school, said its very early days, but the level of support they have already received from the community and former parents and students has been overwhelming.

Dawn, who lives in Cleadon and runs the North East Bed Centre in South Shields, said: "I have spoken to the trust and they have agreed in principle that if we can put together a watertight business plan there would be scope to take over some of the buildings.

"It seems to be the feeling of the teachers that they want to do whatever they can for the sake of the pupils."

She said she has no experience of running a school, but the aim is to being together the people who have the knowledge and experience needed to take on the challenge.

Dawn said she has spoken to a solicitor and the Department of Education and it seems the quickest way to save the school would be to set it up and run the school as a limited company.

She said they are in the process of getting permission to look at the current finances of the school.

Dawn said: "We want to get across to parents to not make any quick decisions. By all means look around for a second option, but don't give up on the school just yet."

Anyone who is interested in getting behind the campaign to save the school should go along to the meeting at the Junior School site in Ashbrooke Road at 2pm on Sunday.