Come all ye faithful (or faithless)

7th October 2005 at 01:00
A Leeds headteacher has sent out 12,000 leaflets inviting parents of all faiths, or none, to choose her Church of England primary.

Archbishop Cranmer C of E school, which filled only 20 of its 45 reception places this year, spent almost pound;2,000 on the mailshot that went out at the end of the summer holidays.

The leaflet asked potential parents if they were looking for a "happy, caring and stimulating" environment for their children.

Helen Kirwin, headteacher, said the leaflets were not junk mail, but an attempt to inform potential parents about the school.

"We realised that if they bring in two extra children, we'll be in profit," she said. "I have already shown some new parents round, who would not have come without the leaflets."

Linda Clay, headteacher of neighbouring Fir Tree primary, said her school did not have the resources to send out glossy leaflets, though it was also under-subscribed.

She said: "Our concern is that if our school disappears, there will be only 60 places for state provision in our patch, compared to 120 places for faith schools. We don't think this would give parents a lot of choice."

Mrs Clay said Fir Tree had filled only 10 out of 30 reception places. A meeting with parents and officials from Leeds city council was held at the school last week to discuss the closure plans.

Mick Brookes, general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers, said: "Some schools are desperate to attract people, but if other schools respond in kind, then parents would end up in the middle of a publicity war.

"There is not a lot we can do in terms of falling rolls, apart from encouraging parents to help us out."

Bev Marshall, National Union of Teachers regional officer for Yorkshire, said schools sending out mailshots were not showing the right spirit.

"There should be orderly discussions so that the admissions cake can be divided in a way that means all the schools in the area are viable."

There are around 7,500 surplus places in the city's primaries, according to Education Leeds, the company which runs education services in the city.

Every year since 2000, 100 primary schools in England have closed because of falling rolls.

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