THE NORTHEN ECHO Nov 9. 2012 | Comments (2)
A FIGHT has begun to save a city secondary school from closure, with parents and ex-pupils staging an angry protest at the gates.
Around 20 people gathered outside Durham Gilesgate Sports College, in Gilesgate, Durham, this lunchtime (November 9) with placards saying: ‘Save Our School’.
Earlier this week, Durham County Council announced a six-week consultation on ending 11 to 16 education at Gilesgate, which has just 233 pupils of secondary age and faces budget cuts.
But parents and ex-pupils say it is a good school with a friendly, family atmosphere and they want it to remain open.
Julie McNamara, who attended the school herself and whose 12-year-old daughter Sophie currently studies there, said: “This is the school I chose for Sophie. The staff are brilliant. It’s a family school.
“I don’t see how they can close the school when they’re saying they can keep it open for 16 to 19.”
The school’s sixth form, on a separate site off Freeman’s Place, is unaffected by the proposals.
Jane Evans, another former pupil whose 12-year-old daughter Zoe Thexton is at Gilesgate now, added: “It’s ridiculous to be closing the school when there are so many primary schools wanting to come in.”
Former pupil Amy Liddle, 17, said: “I loved it here. They would do anything for you. It’s terrible.”
The council consultation starts on Monday. Headteacher Arthur Raymond has said the very low pupil numbers mean the school will struggle to be sustainable.
Education chiefs say they will work to ensure any changes have a minimal impact on pupils’ education.
Labour Government plans to close Gilesgate and Belmont schools and create a £25m academy were scrapped by the Coalition in 2010.
Durham City Labour MP Roberta Blackman-Woods said: “I’m really sad that we’ve got to the situation where the school will have to close.
“We’re in this position because the Government didn’t support the academy that was planned and costed and almost through at the county council.”
The MP plans to ask Education Secretary Michael Gove for Belmont Community School to be given extra money to cope with any changes.