Catholics gain reprieve

19th May 2006 at 01:00
The official admissions body has stepped in to save an "unpopular" Roman Catholic school, saying its closure would discriminate against Catholic parents.

Wirral council, Merseyside, attempted to shut St Paul's primary as part of a purge on surplus places, insisting that keeping the school, which has 83 pupils and is only three-quarters full, was a waste of money.

In a report, officials said St Paul's cost more than pound;1,000 per pupil more to run than other schools and the authority would save pound;100,000 with its closure. It also pointed out there are three other Catholic primaries within walking distance.

But the Office of the Schools Adjudicator blocked the move, saying any savings were outweighed by Catholic parents' rights to have a faith school on their doorstep.

June Brown, the adjudicator, said: "Even if places were to be made available at the (three other) schools, for many parents the difficulties of travel would prove prohibitive. Effectively, therefore, the closure of St Paul's will remove the choice of a Catholic education for many local parents.

"It is my judgement that the relatively small savings to be made do not justify the closure of this highly-valued Catholic school that serves an area where levels of deprivation are high."

According to the council, spending per pupil at St Paul's, which is rated as an "effective school" by Ofsted, is pound;3,880 compared with the Wirral average of pound;2,737.

Keith Porteous Wood, executive director of the National Secular Society, said: "The LEA has a duty to all children in its area. To spend that huge amount on a small, relatively unpopular, school seems completely unacceptable."

Log-in as an existing print or digital subscriber

Forgotten your subscriber ID?


To access this content and the full TES archive, subscribe now.

View subscriber offers


Get TES online and delivered to your door – for less than the price of a coffee

Save 33% off the cover price with this great subscription offer. Every copy delivered to your door by first-class post, plus full access to TES online and the TES app for just £1.90 per week.
Subscribers also enjoy a range of fantastic offers and benefits worth over £270:

  • Discounts off TES Institute courses
  • Access over 200,000 articles in the TES online archive
  • Free Tastecard membership worth £79.99
  • Discounts with Zipcar,, Virgin Wines and other partners
Order your low-cost subscription today