Church secondary asks pupils’ parents to find another school

One of the borough’s largest secondary schools which still operates outside the academy system is to close its doors in September to hundreds of pupils.

St Andrew’s is closing its gates to hundreds of pupils next term

St Andrew’s High, on Warrington Road, close to the Croydon Flyover, has written to the parents of pupils in Years 8 and 9 asking them not to come back to the school in September. Those who applied for places for their 11-year-olds to start at the school in Year 7 have also been contacted and asked to make alternative arrangements for their secondary schooling.

It is understood that the decision has been taken because of a “reduced number of applicants” for the school.

St Andrew’s School was founded in the borough in 1857 as one of its first “ragged schools”, to provide an education for the area’s poor. It moved to its currrent site in the 1960s, at the time that the Croydon Flyover was being built. It is supposed to have a school roll of 695.

Croydon Council and the Diocese of Southwark – St Andrew’s is a Church of England school – are said to be working to find alternative schools for the more than 400 pupils affected in Years 7, 8 and 9. The Diocese is understood to be willing to assist with some funding for new school uniforms.

With the help of another school, St Andrew’s will continue to provide education for those pupils in Key Stage 4 – that is, 15- and 16-year-olds in Years 10 and 11, undertaking their GCSE courses.

But it seems very likely that St Andrew’s will close its doors permanently once this group of pupils have completed their public exams.

The closure of a school because of a lack of enough pupils comes just as Croydon Council has green-lighted a £30million scheme to build a large, partially selective secondary school on Green Belt land less than two miles up the road from St Andrew’s.

Croydon Council justified the decision on the grounds that there are not enough secondary school places in the borough – even though the council’s own figures show a large over-supply of school places, with some academy schools operating at more than 30 per cent below their pupil capacity. Council figures show an over-supply of 5,000 secondary school places around Croydon.

Going: St Andrew’s head Kerry Targett

Sources close to the St Andrew’s suggest that it has been victim of long-term neglect and reduced resources, as it struggled to operate as a church school but outside the academy chain system.

In March this year, it was announced that the headteacher, Kerry Targett, was leaving her position at the end of this summer term to take up another post in Redhill.

Targett, previously vice-principal at Riddlesdown secondary, had been head at St Andrew’s since September 2015, around the same time that a decision was taken to close the school’s sixth form because it was no longer “viable”.

St Andrew’s was rated as “requires improvement” by its last Ofsted inspection, in 2016. In the 2017 Croydon secondary school performance tables, St Andrew’s was rated 20th among the borough’s state schools, with its “Attainment 8” score, which measures a student’s average grade across eight subjects, at 37.2 – classed as performing “significantly below” expectations.

When announcing her departure, Targett said, “I have loved my time at St Andrew’s School, it is a wonderful place to work…  the school is in a strong forward-looking position with staff who are skilled and effective in their work and with a governing body that effectively support and challenge the work of the school.

“It is without doubt that the new head will be working alongside myself to ensure a smooth transition and to make sure the hard work continues.”

Or not, as the case may be.

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19 Responses to Church secondary asks pupils’ parents to find another school

  1. An over supply of 5000 places?!
    We knew our numbers were correct when we challenged Croydon Council over the necessity to build Oasis Academy Arena.
    Croydon Council rejected our calculations. Perhaps they will respect the well researched presentations of experienced professional people in future.
    I remain furious about the unnecessary loss of green land to yet another secondary school. Pandering to Mammon.

    • Oasis Arena school is currently operating at around 66 per cent of its supposed capacity for the number of year groups attending.

      The churn in senior staff won’t have helped that school’s reputation.

  2. timbartell says:

    Expect to find a massive housing development there in the near future

    • The council would never have got permission for a residential development on Green Belt land at, say, Coombe Wood. However, by removing its Green Belt status, development of that site was possible for a huge school… Over-subscribed, we are told, for its first year in Portakabin-style sheds. Meanwhile, an established school with a declining reputation struggles for new intake pupils. A very enticing brown field site indeed, Tim…

    • Sadly that was my first thought…

  3. derekthrower says:

    We are told the country has to deal with austerity and the rationing of Local Authority Services, but any free or academy school development is funded without question by the agents of the State. This demonstrates ideology is far more important to these Agencies than any rational attempt to match educational supply with real demands. The magic money tree is always open for those with the right connections.

  4. It certainly seems that there is an oversupply of secondary school places in Croydon as a whole. However that is a bit of a broad brush to be working with. Do we have to consider the financial viability of schools? I have heard it suggested in the past that schools really need to have an intake of at least 240 to be viable. However demand in particular locations might only need a school with an intake of 180. So we end up with big schools where we don’t particularly need them, or smaller schools that are barely viable. Is it also possible that there are schools that are too big?

    Should we also not consider that St Andrew’s is a CE faith school? That increases the appeal to some, reduces it to others, and means it is either perceived as a non-starter or is indeed a non-starter to the remainder. Perhaps it simply represents an oversupply in the CE faith ‘market’?

    With hindsight it rather looks like a new school on the St Andrew’s site could have replaced St Andrew’s, Arena and CWS.

    I think perhaps the new school on Morland Road should be the one that is being questioned now.

    • Industrial-scale school intakes and “viability” is the game the academies play, when they convert numbers into profits from public budgets. They approach schools as if they are nothing more than exam factories, looking for the best financial economy of scale, to churn out rosy-cheeked 16-year-olds with the requisite number of GCSEs to ensure the school’s place in the league tables, before moving them on to sixth forms and hence to trumped-up polytechnics for too often meaningless degrees to store up a life time of debt.
      Time’s long overdue to look at a return to educating our children, in schools where 90 to 120 pupils intake per year allow for the place to have the kind of scale in which staff and pupils (note: they are *not* “students”) can form proper understandings and have time to learn for learning’s own sake.
      Academies, it should be noted, were a Blairite notion with which the Tories are exceedingly comfortable.

      • derekthrower says:

        It is interesting that OFSTED/Council/Dept. of Education have not installed a new management team to manage this school, and instead are taking this radical course of killing a living school and forcing children to move part way during their education.

        Normally in the past a favoured Academy would have been invited in to rescue it.

        Does indicate some sort of stitch up is going on here, doesn’t it? Those empty Academy and Free Schools that so much money has been spent on need filling up, and who cares about the transport infastructure to get them there?

  5. paul greenwood says:

    My son goes to this school and has said from day 1 that he hates it and that he doesnt learn at the school because of how bad it is in my eyes being told to take him else where is a blessing in disguise

  6. Jonathan Law says:

    It’s a simple land-grab to make lots of dosh with a big new development. Where the families of those living on the new estate send their kids to school (assuming the apartments will ever be let and not simply for “investment purchases for overseas buyers laundering their money”)

  7. pbj2 says:

    So St Andrews is closing because of the declining number of pupils.But just down the road there was talk of a new secondary school being built on the old Heath Clark Playing Fields?.And the excuse for this green field site being developed was because of a supposed under-supply of secondary school places in Croydon.

    I think like many people i’m confused as to what the real situation is.For either there’s a demand for more secondary school places or there isn’t.And if there isn’t then why build a new school on the Heath Clark Playing Fields ?

    • You’d only be confused if you do not read Inside Croydon regularly.

      The “talk” of building a school on Heath Clark playing fields was abandoned some time ago. It’ll be used for housing now instead, as we reported last year.

      The site sought for a uber-large, part-selective “grammar school ethos” school is the Coombe Wood playing fields, what was Green Belt, just up the road from the town centre, opposite Lloyd Park.

      And Croydon Council’s own figures show a surplus of 5,000 secondary school places in the borough, again as was first reported by Inside Croydon.

      • pbj2 says:

        Thanks for the clarification.

        So has planning permission for housing actually been granted for the Heath Clark site ?

        • There’s no planning application on the council website

          • pbj2 says:

            Given you can literally taste the pollution in that neck of the woods i’m surprised they’d want to build more housing on the Heath Clark fields.-therefore adding to the pollution.

            Environmental concerns don’t seem to have played any part in deciding what to do with the Heath Clark site. For surely it would have been better to add the fields to the Duppas Hill Park and plant lots of trees there to help soak up the pollution.

            However as is so often the case money talks loudest even when it has the potential to affect the health of local residents.And Waddon residents already have one of the lowest longevity rates in Croydon.

  8. Lewis White says:

    A quick thought on air pollution and schools.

    St Andrew’s is next to the polluted air of the flyover.

    The new Harris Primary on the Purley Way, built right next to one of the most polluted roads in Croydon, was – unbelievably – given planning permission.

    Now Sadiq Khan is rightly highlighting the problems of air pollution and its devasting effect on children’s development, their lungs (childhood asthma increasing), and their adult heath in later years.

    Should we not be looking at all school sites in Croydon and asess their air quality and potential for either greening the schools with trees and hedges to filter the air or relocate them to better sites?

    New schools should only be on sites with enough greenery and space to allow for heathy outdoor play and ideally, outdoor sports on site.

    A new school should not be given planning permisison if it is next to a major road. It’s obvious.

    With regard to the new Grammar school to be built on the de-designated Green Belt of Coombe Road, it’s clear that the resulting school should have space and the green setting that meets my “wish list” above.

    But is it really necessary?

    It will be filled with children of aspirational parents. You can’t criticise them, for wanting a good education for their children, but my guess is that a huge number will come in from Lewisham, Southwark and Lambeth, who will have to travel for hours each way every day, and in darkness for much of the year, as well as having to do hours and hours of homework , which is a stupid UK obession.

    Without these children, it would probably would not be viable on Croydon’s needs alone.

  9. derekthrower says:

    Not all Sport Academies have had successful outcomes. Just because it has a connection to Wallington Grammar does not mean it will acheive the same level of status. The problem with these odd conglomeration of organisations is there rather high failure rate over the medium to long term. No doubt Wallington Grammar will rapidly withdraw any connection to a failing organisation.

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