Angry parents call for funding to get Wideopen primary school repaired and reopened

Concerned parents (L-R) Nichola Johnson, Helen Hayes, Michelle Alexander, Keith Alexander and their children outside Hazlewood Primary School, Wideopen.
Concerned parents (L-R) Nichola Johnson, Helen Hayes, Michelle Alexander, Keith Alexander and their children outside Hazlewood Primary School, Wideopen. -Credit:Newcastle Chronicle

Parents are up in arms over ongoing disruption at a primary school hit by concrete concerns and are calling for more funding for repairs.

Hazlewood Community Primary School in Wideopen is one of four schools in North Tyneside where weak and brittle concrete ceiling blocks were discovered. Hazlewood was forced to close entirely in early February to allow for investigations into the scale of the issue.

Since then, alternative classrooms have been set up, including a marquee on the school grounds, at the local Air Cadet club and Wideopen Library buildings. However, parents continue to have concerns over the temporary facilities on campus, including the portaloos, the provision of hot meals, and the wait for temporary classroom units.

Parents voiced their frustration over the conditions at a public meeting on Monday in the presence of North Tyneside Council officials. Several parents are now hitting out and saying funding is needed for short-term and longer-term solutions.

Two parents who spoke to the Local Democracy Reporting Service are even contemplating their children’s future at the school as the saga continues.

Parent Keith Alexander, 44, said: “We have had to consider our son’s school and academic priorities. The teaching staff and senior leadership have been fantastic, which cannot be understated, but it is the facilities. You want your kids to have the best chance to do what they can do.”

Mum-of-two Joanne Lowery, 39, added: “It is a crisis, this should be a priority. This is our children’s education, we have had enough disruption with Covid-19. We are still no further forward, it is very frustrating. I just want what is right for my children."

Joanne continued: “We want what our children deserve and at this precise moment we want the money for modular units and for the repairs.”

Jon Ritchie, Director of Resources at North Tyneside Council said: “This is an unprecedented situation on a large scale, and we are deploying significant time and resources to work on problems as they arise, as well as short and long-term solutions. We value the feedback from the school community and are listening to their concerns.

“The scale of the problem in school means key areas including the toilets, the kitchen and the staff room are closed for safety, and we have interim measures at the school in order to make face-to-face education possible.

“There have been issues with the standard of temporary toilets, and I apologise for this. We are working with the school to rectify these issues. We will continue to work with the school to bring hot meals back to the site and are close to a solution.

“We are exploring practicalities for safe and appropriate modular units on site, bespoke to the needs of the Hazlewood pupils. I’d like to thank staff, parents and carers and children for their patience and resilience.

“Our conversations with the Department for Education around short and long-term funding for the future of the building are ongoing. “The situation has also prompted political outrage from North Tyneside Council’s Labour administration.

Cabinet member for education, Coun Steven Phillips said: “The Conservative Government needs to get a grip and provide both the short-term funding we need to provide the best possible face-to-face environment and long-term funding for repairs or replacement of the affected buildings.”

A Department for Education spokesperson said: “All pupils affected remain in face-to-face education and we are working closely with North Tyneside council to support them.

“We will continue to work with the council to understand the situation at Hazlewood and any additional support required.