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Gateshead - Primary closure threat demos

Pupils and parents from Gateshead have staged protests to save three primary schools from closure. Falling rolls in the area have forced the local council to start talks on a possible re-jig of primary provision in Tyneside.

If the plans go ahead, three schools, St John the Baptist Primary, Sacred Heart Primary and Marley Hill Community Primary, could all face closure by August next year.

Parents and pupils from each school staged a protest against the plans in a bid to prevent the schools from being axed.

Gateshead Council said the schools were unviable because of falling rolls. Margaret Whellans, group director of learning and children for Gateshead Council, told Newcastle's Evening Chronicle: "Marley Hill and St John the Baptist have only 78 pupils each, with Sacred Heart having 79, and all have been identified as having the lowest numbers and therefore being unsustainable.

"The council understands how significant these issues are and appreciates the strength of emotions involved. However, we are only too aware that too many small schools in an area can result in an inefficient use of resources which can have an adverse effect on educational standards for the whole borough."

Ms Whellans added: "No final decisions have yet been made and further consultation is invited from parents, teachers, pupils and all other interested parties." RV.

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