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."

Subscribe to get access to the content on this page.

If you are already a Tes/ Tes Scotland subscriber please log in with your username or email address to get full access to our back issues, CPD library and membership plus page.

Not a subscriber? Find out more about our subscription offers.
Subscribe now
Existing subscriber?
Enter subscription number

Comments

The guide by your side – ensuring you are always up to date with the latest in education.

Get Tes magazine online and delivered to your door. Stay up to date with the latest research, teacher innovation and insight, plus classroom tips and techniques with a Tes magazine subscription.
With a Tes magazine subscription you get exclusive access to our CPD library. Including our New Teachers’ special for NQTS, Ed Tech, How to Get a Job, Trip Planner, Ed Biz Special and all Tes back issues.

Subscribe now