Catholic Diocese of Leeds may block plan to expand St Anthony’s Primary School, Shipley (From Bradford Telegraph and Argus)
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Catholic Diocese of Leeds may block plan to expand St Anthony’s Primary School, Shipley
11:00am Wednesday 20th March 2013 in News
The Catholic Diocese of Leeds will likely block Bradford Council’s plans to increase the number of pupils at a Shipley school next September.
Last week the Council voted to increase the size of several schools across the district, including St Anthony’s Catholic Primary School.
A meeting of the Council’s executive chose to increase the school’s Published Admissions Number, the amount of new pupils it can take on each year, from 18 to 30 from September 2014, enlarging the capacity from its existing 126 pupils to 210. The expansion would rely on the school’s governing body agreeing with the decision, but this week the Diocese of Leeds, which runs St Anthony’s, said they were unlikely to do this in time for the 2014 deadline.
Although Catholic schools do take in non-Catholic pupils, the diocese fears taking on so many extra pupils would run the risk of “tipping the balance.”
In a public consultation held last year, parents and staff appeared split on the plans with 13 writing in support, including headteacher Simon Gallacher, and 16 opposed.
A spokesman for the diocese said: “We need to provide a Catholic education for Catholic children and we have to keep that balance right. Education officers and the diocese look at things in a very different way. They are looking to provide spaces for children whatever their denomination.
“They need to find more school places, but that isn’t our job. When we spoke to education officers it wasn’t an out and out rejection of expanding, we just felt there was no evidence that we need extra places for Catholic children. We can’t go ahead with creating places and then filling them with children who aren’t Catholic.”
Coun Vanda Greenwood, chairman of governors at the school, said: “I am disappointed if they have come to that decision and it is slightly worrying. I think there will be quite a few Catholic pupils without school places in the next few years.”
A Bradford Council spokesman said the school had until April 15 to let the authority know its response to last week’s decision.