Sunderland High School closure: Campaigners ‘overwhelmed by support’ as they fight to save institution

Sunderland High School
Sunderland High School
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Campaigners hoping to save an historic Sunderland school say they have 
been overwhelmed by people’s response to their rescue effort.

A steering group of parents and staff was set up in a bid to save Sunderland High School, which has been an iconic part of the city for more than 130 years.

Dawn Pringle.

Dawn Pringle.

The group said the only viable option was to take-over the school, close the junior site, and operate the whole primary and secondary departments from buildings in Mowbray Road.

Dawn Pringle, who is co-ordinating the steering group, said that, after financial figures were released by United Church School 
Trust (UCST), they have now created a business plan which they are confident will work if enough parents want it to.

She said more than enough families have already indicated they would want their children to remain at the school and they are asking them to commit to the proposal before they put the business plan to UCST early next week.

Parents, staff and students were left stunned last week when UCST, which 
currently runs the independent school, announced it was to close citing falling
 pupil numbers for the decision.

The steering group was launched to come up with a way of saving the school and asked for help, both financial and in expertise, which have flooded in.

Dawn said she has been amazed by the number of people who have offered whatever help they can, many who are in no way connected with the school.

She said: “The level of support city-wide has been fantastic.

“We have had lots of people helping us, such as solicitors, property developers and financial experts.

“I think people are honing in on the historic aspect of the school and that it is a piece of the city’s heritage, which should be saved.”

Dawn said having high quality independent schools also helps attracts business people to the city, which 
benefits the whole community.

UCST has agreed that if the group has a watertight business plan they can keep the name of the school, which currently employs 75 staff, and operate as a limited company from some of the buildings, many of which are listed, at the Mowbray Road site for a ‘peppercorn rent’.

It would initially run as a limited company with a view to making it a charity in the long term.

Sunderland High Junior School is the top performing junior school in the region, placed 16th in the Sunday Times Top 100 Prep schools listing 2015.

And, the senior school has consistently outperformed other schools in the city with a GCSE success rate on average over a four year period of 79% five or more A*-C grades including English and maths.