October 7, 2008

School Vows to Take Fight Against Closure to the Top


THE headteacher of closure threatened Croxteth Community Comprehensive has vowed that every possible step will be taken to keep the school open.

Richard Baker made the pledge as he joined Phil Knibb, chair of governors, and Croxteth councillor Rose Bailey, in criticising last Wednesday's shock closure announcement.

They said the proposed plan was a bombshell for the school and a death knell for the community. They now aim to take their fight to the Government and launch a legal challenge.

Mr Knibb said: "The reason it (the report) was delayed was to look at community cohesion, but the council has bowed to pressure from the Catholic Archdiocese.

"This is not about building a school for the future, it is about just building a school.

"The issues of young boys and community cohesion is not solved by putting them in a Catholic academy."

Council chiefs say the closure is necessary due to falling pupil numbers.

Under the plans, Croxteth School will close in 2010, St John Bosco will be refurbished and will admit non-Catholic girls.

De La Salle Catholic Humanities College will be turned into a pounds 20m boys academy which will admit non-Catholic boys.

The city council is also offering a free bus service for anyone needing to travel to Fazakerley High.

Twenty years ago, when the city council first battled to close the school, the school reopened with rebel teachers and parents before returning to authority control.

Mr Knibb, who became chair during the rebel years, said they would do the same again if it came to it. "They tried to close the school in the 1980s and we did what we had to.

"It was hard, but we have the knowledge of how to fight the closure this time, and we will try all possible avenues before taking that step again."

Mr Baker said the proposals "belittled" the school after a flawed consultation.

He said they offered no genuine choice for parents who wanted their children to go to a mixed-sex, non-faith school.

He argued "radical" plans put forward by the school for a community campus, educational improvements and a good Ofsted had been ignored.

Cllr Bailey, vice-chair of governors, said it was disgusting the council had not acknowledged a 3,000-plus signature petition as part of the consultation process.

She said: "The council acknowledges that falling school places are linked to the negative portrayal of the area and parents wanting to send their children to other areas.

"But I don't know any pupil that is part of gang culture, they all go out into the world as model citizens and we have the school and the staff to thank for that."

Cllr Keith Turner, the council's executive member for education, said: "Falling school rolls dictate we can't spend tens of millions of pounds on new schools which evidence shows will be virtually empty in a few years."

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Plans 'belittle' the school

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