A formal consultation has opened on a proposal to close Virgo Fidelis Convent Senior School, part of the Archdiocese of Southwark’s educational provision in the borough, in August 2021.
The Roman Catholic voluntary-aided secondary school for girls is located in Upper Norwood. The closure is being proposed by the school’s Interim Executive Board (IEB), and this decision is supported by the both the Archdiocese and Croydon Council.
The reason for the proposed closure is that the school is seen as no longer viable. The majority of the buildings are in poor repair and unfit for purpose. Over the past few years the pupil roll has fallen consistently and the school budget has been in deficit over a period of several years with the school now in significant debt.
Earlier this year the Office of the Schools Adjudicator approved the suspension of entry to Year 7 at Virgo Fidelis for September 2020, leading to the council and its partners working hard to find alternative provision. Incoming Year 7 students were offered places at other local schools including another all-girls Roman Catholic School.
The local authority has a legal duty to consult on the closure of a Croydon school.
As the local education authority the council organised a pre-publication consultation which took place from 1 October to 23 October in which stakeholders commented on the proposed closure. Sixty responses were received during this period which formed the basis of a consultation outcomes report presented to the interim executive director of children, families and education and the cabinet member for children, young people and learning to consider and decide whether to proceed to publish statutory notice and start a representation period.
Following their approval, a formal consultation has begun during which people will be able to comment on or object to the council about the proposal to close the school. This representation period will run until Thursday, 10 December after which the responses, from all stakeholders, will be analysed and used to create a formal consultation outcomes report which will be submitted to Croydon Council’s cabinet in January 2021 who, in line with the DfE Statutory Guidance – opening and closing maintained schools (November 2019) – is the decision-maker that will agree the final decision on the proposal to close the school from August 2021.
Should the proposed closure be approved by the council’s cabinet, students who are currently in Years 8 and 9 at Virgo Fidelis will be offered an alternate place at other schools. Since September 2020 Year 10 students have been taught on the site of St Mary’s Catholic Secondary School in Croydon, due to the condition of the buildings on the Virgo Fidelis site.
Should the closure be approved these students will be enrolled as St Mary’s students for Year 11, remaining in a single-sex location away from the rest of the school. The current Year 11 students at Virgo Fidelis will have completed their GCSE examinations in July 2021, before the proposed closure of the school in August 2021.
The Archdiocese of Southwark and Croydon Council will work to seek to deploy all Virgo Fidelis staff, or as many as possible, into alternative positions in other local schools.
If you are affected by the proposed closure of the school and would like to have your say as part of the consultation then visit www.croydon.gov.uk/getinvolved