Anger as Jesmond Park Academy representatives refuse to meet with parents over school closure

An academy trust which runs a school that has been closed for almost a month due to storm damage has been accused of ignoring the concerns of parents and carers.

The Gosforth Group, which runs Jesmond Park Academy, declined an invite to attend a meeting organised by parents and carers to answer questions about an action plan for children to safely return to Jesmond Park Academy following its closure on October 19.

The meeting was organised following a petition with over 400 signatures calling for answers about when younger pupils could return to class and who was taking responsibility after the building’s roof was damaged in Storm Babet last month.

However, the Gosforth Group has told ChronicleLive is “not possible” to send a representative of the Trust or school to the meeting which is due to take place at 12pm on Saturday at Ouseburn Farm.

Jon Bryan, who started the petition 10 days ago, said: “The Gosforth Group continues to ignore the legitimate concerns of parents and carers. There is a widespread view that they are failing families in the east end of Newcastle.”

Although the school have sent daily messages to parents, some feel there has been an absence of vital information. While the school reopened to Year 11, 12 and 13 on Thursday and is set to welcome Year 10 back to school on Monday, there is no return date set for pupils in Year 7, 8 and 9.

Jon also claims that the Gosforth Group took three weeks to provide any detailed information to parents and carers, which was set out in a letter from the Chair of Trustees on November 9. But he believes the letter produced more questions than answers, such as, why it took over a week to get someone on site to assess the damage, when families were given the impression that pupils would be back to school within days.

Naomi Jackson, who has two children at the school, said: “What is the point of large Multi-Academy Trusts if they do not have robust and clearly developed continuity plans. Pupils and parents have been left in the dark with little clear messaging.

“I’m bitterly disappointed with the Gosforth Academy Trust and feel they have failed Jesmond Park Academy.”

Michael Archer, who also has two children at Jesmond Park Academy, said: “They have been off for one month and only had one assembly. Why can’t the school find out how my children are doing? Nobody has asked if they’re ok. This stone-faced response is the same as their communication with parents. One-sided and inadequate.”

A spokesperson for The Gosforth Group, which runs Jesmond Park Academy, said: “The Trust has provided almost daily, factual bulletins for parents and carers on the school website and by text, along with regular messages from the Principal. There has also been a letter from the Chair of the Trust.

“The author of the petition was invited to meet with the Chair, but this offer has not been taken up. A message has been sent stating that the Chair and the CEO will arrange a meeting to which all parents will be invited in the near future. It is not possible to send a representative of the Trust or school to Saturday’s meeting.”

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