FAMILIES have started a campaign to save a school campus, amid fears a temporary closure for building work will see it shut permanently.

Greenfield Community College’s Sunnydale site, at Shildon, will close after the Christmas holidays so drainage work can be carried out.

The school and Durham County Council describe the move as temporary but, with no date scheduled for completion, many families in the Shildon area are concerned Sunnydale may never reopen.

An online petition ‘Reopen Sunnydale Campus’ started by Shildon Town Councillor Samantha Townsend had been signed by 247 people within two days of going live on 38degrees.org.uk

Sunnydale Community College became part of Greenfield Community College, in Newton Aycliffe, in 2015.

Pupils are educated across both sites, with 758 of pupils based at Newton Aycliffe, 55 year nine pupils whose education is split across both sites and 99 year seven and eight pupils based at Shildon.

The county council’s Sunnydale Leisure Centre is on the same site in Shildon.

The Northern Echo:

Cllr Townsend said: “We understand that health and safety must be prioritised, and that after years of neglect, building repairs are urgent.

“The community of Shildon are, however, altogether too familiar with ‘temporary’ closures becoming permanent, as was the case with the maternity unit at Bishop Auckland Hospital.

“The community of Shildon deserve the respect and honesty of all people in positions of power and we require firm commitments that the site will reopen, and clear timescales to be communicated to parents at the earliest opportunity.”

She said residents worry that if the campus did close it could lead to the loss of other services and hit the town’s economy which is supported by school staff, young people and parents.

“The closure of Sunnydale campus would the people of Shildon the message that those in power don’t care about the decline of our town. This feeling of being neglected is to the detriment of all children, and all adults resident in Shildon,” she added.

Richard Crane, head of education and skills at Durham County Council, said: “We are committed to ensuring the best outcomes for all children at Greenfield Community College and are aware of ongoing building condition issues at the Shildon site. In recent weeks, problems with the drainage system have escalated and require us to undertake remedial works which cannot be completed with the young people onsite.

“As a result, at the start of the spring term in January, all pupils will be temporarily moved to the Newton Aycliffe site to allow this work to be carried out, along with further investigations and repairs. We do not have a time scale for the completion of the work but during this time free pupil transport will be provided from the Shildon site to Newton Aycliffe.

“The move will not have an impact on the education of the pupils and will draw upon the positive experiences of children in year 10 and 11 who have already made a switch to a single-site education in Newton Aycliffe. The headteacher is informing pupils and families of the temporary arrangements this week.

“Shildon Sunnydale Leisure Centre will remain open as usual while the temporary arrangements are in place.”