Our Managing Director Grant Findley has agreed to give his old primary school a much-needed injection of finance after reeling in shock at the poor state of its IT equipment and facilities.
Mr Findley’s visit to Toner Avenue Primary School looked set to be a touching and nostalgic experience.
However, his time there was blighted when he saw evidence of chronic underfunding at the school on Johnston Avenue in the town of Hebburn in South Tyneside.
The school required not only new IT equipment but also reading materials and even a new library, the businessman noticed.
The school itself is set for demolition in 2019 when a more modern building will take its place. However, this was little comfort for the Findley Roofing & Building owner.
The Hebburn-born Mr Findley expressed concern about the learning conditions for current pupils.
He despaired: “There just seems to be a serious lack of funding for primary schools. Clearly, this is not just a local problem but a national problem and something needs to be done about it.
“This school is quite fortunate as they will be getting a new build in 2019. But what happens between now and then? What happens to those pupils?”
On Friday, Findley and his sales and marketing manager Tony Finnegan helped relieve the school’s struggle when they delivered new computers. Pupils reacted with delight, but Findley is adamant that more help is needed.
He explained: “When I look at the kids, I don’t see our children, I see our future workforce. This school served me well as a kid. My plan is to take this school under my wing and do what I can to help.”
Headteacher Michael Arthur recalled his astonishment when the businessman, whose company is based in nearby Washington, reached out to him by email.
Mr Arthur, who has just started his second year at the school, admitted: “From a learning point of view, I don’t think schools should have to be helped by people like Grant and Tony, but it’s nice they want to come in and help their old school out.
“They are providing things that are necessary, but things that the school budget would just not stretch to. I don’t think I have heard of any other headteacher being approached and offered the kind of help that he is willing to give our school.”
Chair of governors Elizabeth Luke reported the school’s delight and graciousness about the “very kind donation”, adding: “The school is changing. Yes, it was placed in special measures years ago, but we have seen improvements.
“And we are very lucky to have such gifted teachers working with us and doing remarkable things with the resources we do have.”