A petition has been set up to save St John’s CofE Primary School in Walworth from closure.
As the News reported last week, the school’s governors have launched a consultation into the proposed closure citing a huge deficit in its finances due to declining pupil numbers. This comes despite the school being within the wider Old Kent Road area, where 20,000 new homes are expected to be built in a huge regeneration scheme.
The school has 220 places but only 144 are now filled, creating a deficit of £350,000 for the next academic year.
Those parents behind the petition say they are “truly gutted”, with children set to move schools feeling “anxious, nervous but most of all scared of leaving their friends and teachers that they’ve built a special bond with and made the most fantastic memories with.” More than 300 people have signed so far.
They have also praised the school’s head teacher, Matthew Velada-Billson, for turning the school around since it was told to improve by Ofsted inspectors in 2018, after what inspectors dubbed a period of “considerable turbulence”.
“The impact he had started to really turn the school around. He hasn’t had time to advertise admission or new intakes for 2021 due to a pandemic for the last year, so admissions are low. Mr Velada-Billson gained back the respect of the community the trust in us parents, and the respect from our children,” the petition says.
Southwark Council has said the decision is one for the school’s governors and, as it is a faith school, the Southwark’s Anglican Diocese.
A Southwark Diocesan Board of Education spokesperson told the News last week: “The decision to propose the consultation on school closure was made by the school’s governing body.
“We are supporting the school, parents and pupils in their next steps going forward.”
No comment from Archdiocese on English Martyrs
Meanwhile, news that English Martyrs Roman Catholic Primary School could also close due to declining pupil numbers, and merge with St George’s Cathedral Catholic Primary School in Westminster Bridge Road, has also left parents worried.
Although the News has been told by MP Neil Coyle that the option is under consideration, parents have yet to be notified. The Education Commission for the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Southwark declined to comment when approached by the News with the claims.