DUNSTON FOOTBALL: Parent’s fury as academy axed
Furious parents are up in arms as a Gateshead school’s football academy programme is to be axed.
Kingsmeadow School, in Dunston, offered a football programme delivered by Evolution Football Coaching.
On its website the school said the scheme, which lasts for five years with an additional two offered at sixth form, allows the boys and girls to enjoy a “challenging professionally ran football programme.”
This programme also gives pupils the opportunity to train abroad at international camps.
But the scheme is set to be axed from July, with parents saying this decision was made with no prior warning.
Demi Johnston’s 11-year-old son Alfie joined the school to take part in the programme. She said shocked pupils were only told of the decision last week.
She said: “Alfie only wanted the school for the academy. He came home with a letter last Friday saying it is stopping with no warning.
“I spoke to the head and he said football is part of PE but my son is only interested in football.
“The academy helps him focus on school, he’ll say ‘I’ll do my homework now because I have academy’.
“He [Alfie] said ‘what’s the point in going to that school? I’m only going for the academy’.
“He left his friends he went to primary with to go to a school where he knows nobody. It was a massive step for him to do.
“The kids are absolutely devastated. There are 90 plus kids that have been let down.
“The academy was for girls and boys. The girls can’t do football in PE so their parents are having to fight for their girls to do football.”
Lisa Cassama-Batista, whose 13 year-old son Leo is enrolled at the academy, said the pupils are “heartbroken”.
She said: “Our children, many of whom swayed towards this school purely because of the opportunities promised with their passion for football, are heartbroken as are the coaches who have worked tirelessly with our kids resulting in many many successes.
“For my son, who is in set one for all subjects apart from one, the opportunity to be able to combine his sporting love with his academic skills was so appealing.”
Lisa also said that suddenly withdrawing the offer lacked compassion.
She continued: “To have this yanked from underneath them having already made their option choices and already spent a year in very difficult circumstances shows no compassion nor is it in the best interests of our kids well-being and mental health.
“We are working together as a community to try to understand and find out facts as to why this has occurred and what led to this decision. We are being told various reasons by the school none of which hold any weight.”
Callie Best, a parent of a pupil in year 7, said she felt let down by the school.
She said: “We feel deeply let down by the school.
“They are supposed to educate and encourage our kids yet they’ve broken their dreams and ambitions over night without any warning so we as parents could prepare them for the devastating impact.
“I’m deeply disappointed on the lack of information to explain why and the fact there was no option of appeal or counselling for the kids offered in the immediate aftermath.
“The whole situation has been dealt with appallingly and I hope the school will reconsider their decision and allow all of the students to continue to the end of their contracts in year 11, and compensate for the heartbreak they have caused.”
A spokeswoman for Gateshead Council said that complaints made about this issue are currently under investigation.
She added: “We understand that parents are disappointed that the Evolution Football Academy at Kingsmeadow School will not continue beyond the current school year.
“Families affected by this decision have been kept informed by the school. The complaints that have been raised are being independently investigated and a conclusion will be reached in due course so we are unable to comment further at this time.”
Words: Herbert Soden, Local Democracy Reporter
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