Anxious parents vented their anger as they attended an 11th-hour meeting to save their school.
Schools Adjudicator Brian Slater hosted a meeting to help him decide the fate of Gillas Lane Primary School in Houghton.
The primary school was earmarked for closure earlier this year as part of Sunderland City Council’s proposals to tackle huge number of surplus places, but parents have been campaigning against the plans.
After a lengthy debate in the summer, Sunderland Council’s school organisation committee agreed to defer a decision.
Members were asked by education officials to give the final go-ahead for the axe to fall in August 2012, but they voted four to one in favour of deferring the decision into the hands of the Schools Adjudicator.
At last night’s meeting held at the school, Mr Slater heard views from the local authority, campaign group, Gillas Lane Action to Support Schools (Glass), and residents.
Speaking at the meeting, Glass chairman Dave Coulbeck said: “As parents and carers, we believe we have had a raw deal in this process. Our views and wishes have been sidelined.”
He claimed the proposal had been “misleading” and “poorly executed”.
Those fighting to save the school say its small class sizes are key to giving pupils a good grounding in life.
Earlier this year the authority announced plans to shut Gillas Lane and transfer pupils to nearby Bernard Gilpin Primary School.
Fighting back the tears, Gillas Lane headteacher Terry Hambleton, told the meeting: “What I firmly believe is that there is scope and room for two good schools in the area.
“We know their names, their families, what happens on a weekend, their strengths, what makes them tick.”
Parents and staff are worried about pupils going from a school of 130, with a nursery, to one of more than 400 without a nursery.
Representing the council, Keith Moore, deputy director of Children’s Services, said: “We absolutely understand as a local authority the difficulties and sensitivities of the proposal we are making and we want to acknowledge the excellent work of the school.
“But we have a responsibility and a duty to balance this with the clear duty to manage surplus places.”
Mr Slater will now consider all views before making a decision.
Taken from the Sunderland Echo