A PRIMARY school in Stroud has asked the Government if it can close down due to low pupil numbers.
The trustees of St Dominic’s Catholic Primary School, in Inchbrook, have recommended the Government to end its funding agreement with the school, which if approved would effectively shut it.
The final decision lies with Education Secretary Gavin Williamson and can only be made after a period of consultation.
Parents of pupils who learn at the primary school have expressed their “disappointment” and “sadness” to the Local Democracy Reporting Service.
One says nearby schools are “already full” and they “don’t know what to do”.
The schools’ trustees requested the funding cut due to “significant financial challenges” and a “lack of pupils in the area”.
As of last year, the amount of pupils studying at the school dropped from 98 to 54 in two years.
St Dominic’s Catholic Primary School, which has been in existence for 135 years, was rated ‘inadequate’ by education watchdog Ofsted in July last year.
‘I HOPE THE SECRETARY OF STATE WILL HELP’
Becky Shephard, whose daughter attends St Dominic’s, said: “It makes me feel upset, I understand the governors have tried everything they can and I appreciate that they have, however that does not help us, the parents, as now we have to find a school. I’ve tried all schools in my local area and they are all full.
“So I’m unsure of what is going to happen. We have been given no advice on what to do for a school either. I have a child already in Nailsworth Primary School and they are completely full, so I don’t know what I’m going to do.
“My daughter is upset as she knows come September she might not be at St Dominic’s, and that school had been absolutely amazing with her and will be sad to see it shut.
“I hope the Secretary of State will help, because if not they will have a job on their hands trying to find schools for all these children.
“The staff at the school have carried on being amazing and supporting the children in their education and I feel for them also.
“I just feel annoyed we are left with not knowing what is going to happen and what we should be doing and if there is going to be any help in finding a school.”
Anamaria Ionescu, who moved to Britain from Romania in 2018 with her two daughters which attend the school, said: “It makes me feel very said and insecure.
“It is so easy to destroy than to tray to find a solution to rebuild on what we already have. It breaks my heart.
“Where will we go? The school has so many good things.”
‘SIGNIFICANT FINANCIAL CHALLENGES’
A spokesman for Clifton Diocese, which oversees the Catholic education at the school, said: “The Diocese are aware that the trustees of St Dominic’s Primary School have regrettably had to recommend ending the funding agreement owing to the significant financial challenges and lack of pupils within the area.
“The decision to close the school has not yet been made as this rests with the Secretary of State and can only be made after a period of consultation.”
WHAT DID OFSTED INSPECTORS FIND LAST YEAR?
The school was rated ‘inadequate’ by Ofsted inspectors in July 2019 and dropped two gradings in six years.
Inspectors found there had been “uncertainty” and “turbulence” since the last inspection of the school, and senior leaders’ actions “have not improved the areas of the school identified as weaknesses at the previous inspection quickly enough”.
According to the report published in July, there had been a number of changes to the staffing of the school, and an interim headteacher led the school for a time in 2018.
However at the time of the report the school was led by an interim executive headteacher and an interim head of school.
The report said the headteacher is “currently absent from school and was not present during the inspection”.
Dr Davies however said the Ofsted report found “that the interim leaders’ actions are improving teaching and learning quickly and the new governors have a clear vision for the school”.
He continued: “What we really require is a plan that will take the school up to the next potential Ofsted inspection, when the current plans for the school have been fully implemented.”
“At that stage, we would expect an improved rating that can then take the school from strength to strength.”