Why our school was saved

7th July 2006 at 01:00
The unattributed use of the term "unpopular" in your story about the failed proposal to close St Paul's Catholic primary in Birkenhead ("Catholics gain reprieve", TES, May 19) was inaccurate and potentially damaging to the school.

Although the school is small, all the figures show that it is a very popular school serving the needs of a small, isolated and highly disadvantaged urban community.

Future recruitment looks highly promising with existing numbers weighted towards the bottom end of the school and few places remaining for the 2006 reception class.

Our parents, and the local community, are extremely loyal and supportive: the consultation meetings were attended by a much higher proportion of our parents than for any other school proposed for closure by the local authority in the review. Moreover, our numbers have remained exactly the same over the two years consultation over the school's future.

Your reporter must know that the Department for Education and Skills has said that an unpopular school should be considered for closure. The inaccurate and loaded use of this term - in a piece rather clumsily sandwiched between one on the teaching of creationism and Archbishop Nichols's discussion of the contribution of faith schools to a multi-cultural and multi faith society - suggests that the adjudicator ruled in our favour solely on the grounds that we are a faith school.

This is not the case. As the law stands, local authorities wishing to close a school have to show that a comparable education, including one providing their chosen faith preference, is available elsewhere within a reasonable distance.

Wirral council was not able to demonstrate this in the case of St Paul's and this was the main thrust of the adjudicator's determination. Similar rulings in respect of non-faith schools can be found on the adjudicator's website.

By all means let us have a reasoned debate on whether we wish our present system to continue. But please in future ensure that your contribution to it includes the accurate reporting of facts.

Margaret Cook. Chair of governors St Paul's Catholic primary Birkenhead

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