Merger of Elephant & Castle primary schools abandoned

Plans to merge two Southwark primary schools near Elephant & Castle have been called off after the proposals faced opposition from staff and parents.

Merger of Elephant & Castle primary schools abandoned

We reported in January on plans to merge St Jude's Primary School in Colnbrook Street SE1 with nearby Charlotte Sharman Primary School in West Square SE11.

However, the idea that the combined school would inherit St Jude's status as a Church of England school backed by the Diocese of Southwark proved controversial, with hundreds signing a petition.

Last week the merger was formally abandoned, with St Jude's chair of governors Siobhan Aarons writing to parents:

Throughout the pre-publication and formal consultations governors have been committed to listening to the views of all stakeholders and to ensuring that up to date information, including the financial health and pupil number projections of both schools, informed decision making.

After a long consultation process the governors of St Jude’s have reached our decision. That decision is not to proceed with the proposal to amalgamate.

We believe it is no longer in the best interests of staff and pupils within the school.
There are two key reasons for this decision: i) Opposition from the community at Charlotte Sharman that is at odds with the ethos of St Jude’s. ii) Concerns regarding the viability of the amalgamation, given the latest financial information available.

The primary driver of governors throughout this proposal has been to ensure a strong and sustainable offer of Church of England education for the pupils in the area. We know that some of you may have concerns about what this decision means for the future of our school. St Jude’s continues to manage its resources exceptionally well, despite the low pupil numbers. We have healthy financial reserves which will allow us to set viable budgets for the required 3-year period (until 2027/2028) and this means the school can continue to provide the excellent quality of education that St Jude’s is known for.

In a newsletter to Charlotte Sharman parents, that school said:

The decision to cancel the merger was made in response to the strong negative feedback received from all stakeholders during the consultation process. We understand the importance of considering the views and concerns of the community when making such significant decisions, and we appreciate the time and effort that everyone has put into providing feedback.

We will continue to focus on providing the best possible education and support for our students at Charlotte Sharman Primary School, and we look forward to working together with parents and carers to ensure the continued success of our school.

We also need your help. We aim to continue to be a leading community school, welcoming children from all backgrounds and faiths. A number of families were put off from joining our great school in September, choosing instead to find alternative community/non-faith schools. We would like to encourage you to talk to your friends and families and share this news so we continue to grow in strength.
Tags: Southwark, Elephant & Castle, Education, Politics & local government

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