St Aloysius Primary School could shut by Christmas
Fears for more than 300 children who face being moved into other primary schools
25 April, 2019 — By Tom Foot
The school was celebrating in 2017 when it was named the ‘most inclusive’ for sports in Camden
PARENTS are in shock after being told their children’s primary school could close by Christmas.
The chair of governors at St Aloysius Primary School in Aldenham Street, Somers Town, has written to parents about a consultation on its potential closure.
Margaret Harvey said in a letter sent out on Wednesday that a decision would be taken by the end of term in July.
The letter said the school had been hit by a significant reduction in primary school age children living in the catchment area and a resulting drop in funding meant current staffing levels could not be sustained. The school’s buildings are also coming to the “end of their useful life”, the letter added.
It said: “The governors’ decision to consult on closing the school has primarily been made because the number of primary school age pupils locally – and across central London – has significantly reduced. There have been fewer applications for school places at St Aloysisus Catholic Primary School in recent years, and a smaller number of children in the school means that the school is no longer attracting enough funding to maintain current staffing levels in the future.”
It added: “Several nearby schools have benefited from new buildings and can offer state of the art education facilities to local families who may otherwise have chose St Aloysius.”
The last Ofsted inspection, in 2018, rated the school as “good”. It said there were 325 pupils on the school roll.
Several parents have contacted the New Journal tonight after a meeting at the school today (Thursday). Many expressed outrage and deep concern about the impact of the upheaval on their children. They said they were told at the meeting that low birth rate in Camden – an issue reported on by the New Journal in recent weeks – was partly to blame.
The governors’ letter said that the over-riding priority was to ensure children continued to access the “best Catholic teaching and learning in Camden”.
It said the nearest Catholic schools are Our Lady’s, in Camden Street, that the letter says can expand to take in exiled pupils from St Aloysius.
“No child will be left without the offer of a suitable school place,” Ms Harvey’s letter said.
Teaching staff have not yet been guaranteed jobs.
A consultation will run until June 5.
Cllr Angela Mason, cabinet member for best start in life, said: “It is always very sad when a school may have to close. Unfortunately St Aloysius has been hit by a number of challenges. The school was judged to require improvement in 2018 and although there has been some excellent progress this has also affected school numbers, which are falling generally in the borough. Significant physical improvements are also needed. The consultation is now an opportunity to hear all views and decide the best way forward.”
A joint statement from the Diocese of Westminster and Camden Council said: “The Diocese of Westminster and the governing body at St Aloysius Catholic Primary School, following discussions with Camden Council, have decided to consult on closing the school.”
It added: “The decision to consult has been taken because in recent years there have been fewer applications for school places at St Aloysius, resulting in a falling number of pupils. This means that the school is no longer attracting enough funding to maintain current staffing levels. In addition, the school’s buildings need significant investment to bring them up to modern standards. In common with other London boroughs, Camden is experiencing a decline in the numbers of primary pupils, mainly due to a drop in the overall birthrate.”
The statement said: “Parents, staff and the local community will now be consulted about this proposal. However, preparations are being made ahead of any decision to offer reassurance and a clear way forward for families and staff if the governors’ proposal to close the school is agreed by the council. Following the consultation, a decision is due to be taken before the summer term ends to give families greater certainty about the future of their children’s education. If the school closes, no child would be left without the offer of a suitable school place.”