GENE BRODIE, our education correspondent, on some gathering suspicions over the fate of St Andrew’s secondary school site
The decision to close St Andrew’s CofE High School in Croydon was taken after just 34 children applied to join the school in September.
The school would usually expect to welcome 150 11-year-olds into Year 7 each year.
In total, the school was reduced to just 143 pupils across Key Stage 3 in years 7, 8 and 9.
The parents of all those children have received a letter asking them to seek new schools for their children, giving them barely six weeks’ notice before the start of the new school year in the autumn.
According to a statement issued by Croydon Council, the decision to write to parents of Y7, 8 and 9 parents children was reached because St Andrew’s “are unable to continue offering pupils access to the full national curriculum”.
As reported by Inside Croydon, pupils at the school in Key Stage 4, in the GCSE years 10 and 11, will continue to attend St Andrew’s, under an interim headteacher and with some supervision from another, as yet unnanmed, school.
The school had suffered from a declining reputation over the past three or four years, since the closure of its sixth form, poor GCSE results and with a “requires improvement” report from its last Ofsted inspection. The church school’s chaplain, the vicar of St Andrew’s Church, left last year and has not been replaced by the diocese.
Meanwhile, a new head teacher, appointed in 2015, had attracted controversy over her handling of pupil misconduct and some of her decisions over the school budget. In March this year, Kerry Targett, the head, announced she is to leave the school.
The sudden closure of the school has prompted some speculation about the intentions for the site on Warrington Road, close to Duppas Hill Road, many suggesting that a property deal to transfer the land to the council or developers, possibly for housing.
However, sources have suggested that the council feels it needs to maintain a school in the area to fulfil the anticipated demand for places. This is despite the council’s own figures showing a surplus of 5,000 secondary school places in the borough already, while a £30million build of a new, part-selective secondary on Green Belt land within two miles of St Andrew’s, has been approved.
Croydon Council, as the local education authority with oversight of the school, has issued this statement: “The governing body for St Andrew’s Church of England School has taken the decision to suspend admissions, because they are unable to continue offering pupils access to the full national curriculum. St Andrew’s is a voluntary-aided school and the Diocese of Southwark, who oversee the governing body, have approved their decision.
“We recognise that this is a difficult decision for the school and the Diocese to make, and as we want all our young people to have access to a good education, it is one that we support in the circumstances. Our priority is to support all St Andrew’s pupils and their parents or carers through this transition and to ensure all of them have a school place for September.
“We will be supporting all those going into Key Stage 3 at St Andrew’s to find places at alternative schools, where they will have access to the full curriculum and the opportunities we would want them to have. There are places for all these pupils at nearby schools with a ‘good’ rating and we will offer them and their parents or carers individual support throughout the admissions process.
“We will also ensure that Key Stage 4 pupils remaining at St Andrew’s receive additional support from another ‘good’ school to ensure they have access to the full secondary school experience.”
Croydon Council has not said which “good school” will be brought in for that purpose.
A spokesperson for the Southwark Diocesan Board of Education said: “The Southwark Diocesan Board of Education (SDBE) and Croydon Council are working with St Andrew’s School to ensure that all students get the best possible education. The new interim head of St Andrew’s will make it their priority to work with the SDBE and council to ensure that the school can provide the appropriate educational opportunities for all its pupils.”
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