A STRUGGLING Shildon college, which has been heavily criticised by Ofsted, could be closed before re-opening as part of a nearby secondary school.

Sunnydale Community College, on Middridge Lane, was judged by inspectors to be inadequate and have serious weaknesses when they visited earlier this year.

Its most recent GCSE results fell below the national average and despite having space for 954 pupils, only 400 are being taught there.

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In response to the report by Ofsted, Durham County Council is looking into the problem and proposes closing Sunnydale Community College on December 31, and then re-open it on New Year’s Day as a part of Greenfield Community College, at Newton Aycliffe.

Sunnydale Community College, which is a specialist maths and computing school, already shares a governing body with the Newton Aycliffe school

Pupils at the schools can access lessons at both sites, which are two miles apart.

Greenfield, a specialist science and arts college, was labelled as good by Ofsted in 2012.

County councillor Henry Nicholson, of Shildon, and also a Sunnydale governor, said: “If we don’t do something about the situation now then the Government may take the decision out of our hands.

“We need to give the pupils the best opportunity. The most important thing is the education of the youngsters as we need to equip them for life in the 21st century.”

If the scheme is supported, Greenfield Community College headteacher, David Priestley, will be executive headteacher of both schools from September.

Sunnydale headteacher Sue Byrne was already expected to leave in the autumn.

In a joint statement the headteachers said: “These exciting proposals support our continued efforts to improve the educational standards and opportunities for our students.

“They’ll benefit from improved resources, an extended curriculum and investment to bring classrooms up to a modern standard."

Meetings for parents of pupils in Years Seven to Nine will take place at Sunnydale on Monday, June 23 and Greenfield on Tuesday,June 24.

Parents of Year Ten and 11 pupils have a meeting at Greenfield on Tuesday, July 1 and Sunnydale on Thursday,July 3.

A residents' meeting will take place at Greenfield on Tuesday, July 8, and Sunnydale on Wednesday, July 16. All meetings start at 7pm.

Carol O’Neill, the council’s head of education, said: “Having considered the need to act quickly following the current position of Sunnydale in terms low attainment and progress, these proposals will ensure that students will have wider opportunities for educational improvement.”

Comments can be sent to schoolorganisation@durham.gov.uk or online at durham.gov.uk. For details, visit durham.gov.uk/consultations