A public consultation has opened today (1 October) on a proposal to close Virgo Fidelis Convent Senior School in August 2021.
Virgo Fidelis is a Roman Catholic voluntary-aided secondary school for girls, located in Upper Norwood. It is part of the Archdiocese of Southwark’s education provision in the London Borough of Croydon. The closure is being proposed by the school’s Interim Executive Board (IEB), with the support of the Archdiocese and Croydon Council.
As the local education authority, Croydon Council is seeking the views of those that will be directly affected, and anyone with an interest, on the proposal. This consultation, known as a pre-publication consultation, will run from 1 October to 23 October 2020. You can have your say at www.croydon.gov.uk/getinvolved
Consultation responses will be presented to the cabinet member for children, young people and learning and the council’s executive director for children, families and education.
Subject to their approval, this consultation will be followed by the publication of the statutory notice, which will start a four-week representation period when any person can send objections or comments to Croydon Council.
The Virgo Fidelis IEB is proposing the school’s closure because they believe that it is no longer viable – a view which is shared by the Archdiocese and the council. The majority of the buildings are in poor repair and unfit for purpose, with Year 10 pupils having to be taught at an alternative site. In addition, the pupil roll has fallen consistently over the past several years and the school budget has been in deficit. Consequently the school is increasingly unable to deliver the broad and balanced curriculum that would be expected of a modern secondary school.
Earlier this year Virgo Fidelis took the decision, with the support of the Office of the Schools Adjudicator, to suspend admissions for September 2020. Incoming year 7 pupils were offered alternative places at other local schools including Notre Dame High School, another all-girls Roman Catholic School within the Archdiocese of Southwark.
Should the proposed closure be approved, pupils who are currently in Years 8 and 9 at Virgo Fidelis will be offered alternative places at other schools. Since September 2020, Year 10 Virgo Fidelis 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 of Virgo Fidelis be approved, these pupils will be enrolled as St Mary’s pupils for Year 11, remaining in a single-sex location away from the rest of the school.
The current Year 11 pupils will have completed their GCSE examinations in July 2021, before the proposed closure of the school in August 2021.
Croydon Council and the Archdiocese of Southwark will work together to seek to redeploy all Virgo Fidelis staff, or as many as possible, into alternative positions in other schools locally.