School not taking in new pupils due to building safety concerns

BY TARA O’CONNOR Local Democracy Reporter

A high school has announced it will not take new pupils in its intake year because of fears over the building’s safety – and its cash shortfall.

Concerns about safety, education and finance means a Catholic girls’ school in Croydon will not be accepting Year 7 pupils this September. Virgo Fidelis Convent Senior School in Upper Norwood made the announcement just three weeks before the new academic year was due to start.

All 120 Year 10 pupils will also be moved to St Mary’s Catholic High School in West Croydon. Shocked parents learnt of the changes through a letter from Croydon council which was sent to parents on August 3.

The council is investigating standards at the school and an ‘Interim Executive Board’ (IEB) has been appointed – this happens when the local authority is concerned about the governance of a school.

The investigation covers health and safety, finance and education standards. Josy Batchelor from South Norwood was left with just three weeks to find a new school for her 10-year-old daughter Savannah.

She said: “I’ve had no contact from the school, eight days before the email was released, the school called to asked what language option she would choose. “So I was shocked when I got the email saying we had to find somewhere else. “The thing that bothered me was the school hasn’t contacted us directly.

“I am quite disgusted to be honest, it shows no compassion for the children.

“It’s been a lot of pressure on me, I am a single mother and I want the best for my daughter.

“My daughter is pretty cool about it, she’s got trust in me but she is a bit disappointed.” The family was offered a place at Notre Dame Catholic Girls School in Elephant and Castle, but Josy felt this was too far away. Now she hopes she has found Savannah a place at St Martin in the Fields High School for Girls in ulse Hill.

Josy said: “If she likes this school I’ve got to rush and get her uniform sorted and get her adapted to this school now.” A spokesman for Croydon council said all girls due to start in September have been helped to find another school.

He said said: “Virgo Fidelis Convent Senior School is a Voluntary Aided Catholic comprehensive for girls in the trusteeship of the Congregation of Our Lady of Fidelity.

“The council is arranging an alternative secondary school for each affected pupil; either one proposed by the council or one of the parent/carer and young person’s own choice.

“The IEB has also proposed to move Year 10 Virgo Fidelis pupils to an annexe at St Mary’s Catholic High School to help them prepare for their GCSEs in 2021-22.

“All other remaining year groups at Virgo Fidelis will be taught in one building on campus which meets health and safety requirements, and the council will continue to work with the Education Commission for the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Southwark, school staff and governors to ensure pupils are given the best possible ongoing support for their education and learning. “Croydon council will be working closely with the IEB and the diocese to look at future options for the school.”

Pictured: Virgo Fidelis Convent Senior School

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