Get involved: send your pictures, video, news and views by texting TANEWS to 80360, or email
Plans to combine single-sex Catholic schools
Two single-sex Catholic schools with more than a century of history could be merged into a co-educational super high school if parents react favourably to a consultation on the proposed changes.
St Joseph’s and St Bede’s Catholic Schools currently only have a shared sixth form and are single-sex from 11 to 16 years, but under new plans they could move to one co-educational 11 to 18 years high school.
That school would be called St Bede’s and St Joseph’s Catholic High School and could eventually have 2,000 students.
A consultation is currently ongoing until March to find out exactly what parents want.
If the plans are okayed, from September 2014, Year 7 will be mixed and the other years will be phased in until 2018.
Paul Heitzman, the executive headteacher of St Bede’s and St Joseph’s, said that parents wanted co-educational facilities.
He stressed that the rich heritage of both schools would be kept with a merger.
“There are lots of reasons for doing this,” he said.
“Both schools are in the top ten schools in Bradford in terms of results.
“St Joseph’s is in the top three which already has a letter from the Secretary of State for Education for being in the top 100 improving schools in the country in terms of progress.
“There are falling Catholic numbers in the city and parents have been very clear in our parent primary schools that they want a co-educational school.
“Both schools are more than 100 years old and single-sex was the norm for Catholic schools back then.
“The criteria is baptised Catholics have first choice, then non-Catholics from our parent primary schools, then thirdly non-Catholics, who may have a sibling already with us.
“We are very proud of our tradition and will want to preserve it.”
Simon Gallacher, the headteacher of St Anthony’s Catholic Primary School, praised Mr Heitzman’s “brave proposal”.
“It is a huge change to Catholic Secondary Education in Bradford, but it is a change that will result in better provision and education for your children,” he told parents in a letter.
“Our year six children in 2014 will be able to move up together, keeping friendships already established while also having the usual opportunity to make new friends.”