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Consultation Over Possible Closure Of Whitby School

Consultation Over Possible Closure Of Whitby School

Published by Karen Liu at 10:39am 9th January 2020. (Updated at 1:31pm 9th January 2020)

A school in Whitby has announced it's looking to hold a consultation on whether or not to close.

Governors of St. Hilda's Catholic Primary School have issued a letter to parents and carers.

Chair of Governors, Alison Hodgson, expressed her "deep sadness and personal regret" over the decision, which has been made due to the continued falling numbers, especially of Catholic pupils, and on-going financial challenges.

St. Hilda's, a voluntary aided school run by the Diocese of Middlesbrough, has 24 pupils, only four of whom are Catholic, with none of those in the lower years.

Mrs. Hodgson said:

"The governing body has for some time been trying to address the falling roll position at the school.

The school was originally built for 105 pupils.

In 2019, we reduced our overall capacity to accommodate 74 pupils and a new on-site private nursery.

This allowed us to continue to operate a viable, exciting and appropriate curriculum offer for all pupils.

At present we have 24 pupils on roll and with nine scheduled to move into secondary school in the summer.

The potential number of pupils hoping to join in September is seven.

As Governors, we feel we have reached a position where it isn't feasible for us to continue providing Catholic education at St. Hilda's."

This year, the Governors asked North Yorkshire County Council for permission to set a deficit budget, enabling the school to spend more than it brings in.

The authority can only do this where there's clear evidence the school can recover its financial position within three years.

The school says the financial situation is forecast to deteriorate further despite projected increasing numbers from 2022.

The Diocese of Middlesbrough Director of Schools, Kevin Duffy, said the decision to enter into consultation over closing the school had been taken reluctantly after exploring all available options.

He said:

"With deep regret, it is the view of the Diocese of Middlesbrough that there's no evidence to support the continuation of Catholic education in Whitby, as there appear to be no Catholic children seeking to attend the school."

The request for a formal consultation process will be considered by North Yorkshire County Council next month.

If approved, the subsequent process will include a public meeting for all stakeholders.

If the closure goes ahead, it's likely to come at the end of the academic year.

If necessary, the Diocese would offer places in an alternative Catholic school for parents and carers who wish for their child to continue to receive a Catholic education.

North Yorkshire County Council will also offer support in securing alternative places.

Parents and carers have been given a short Q&A sheet to help with their immediate queries and the school is also offering one-to-one meetings tomorrow (Friday 10th January).

Appointments can be arranged by contacting the school on 01947 603901.

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