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 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.
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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