A decision that could lead to one of the biggest Catholic schools in the country being created in Bradford will be made next week.
Bradford Council’s Executive decides on Tuesday whether to give the go-ahead to the closure of two single-sex Catholic schools and the creation of a new, mixed school.
The merger of St Joseph’s Catholic girls school in Manningham and St Bede’s Catholic boys school in Heaton would create a school with almost 2,000 pupils, opening in September 2014.
So far the majority of parents, governors, staff and pupils have voiced support for the plans, and Bradford Council is expected to back the scheme at Tuesday’s meeting.
The new school would be called St Bede’s and St Joseph’s, and the first mixed-sex class will be the Year 7 pupils starting in September 2014. By 2018, the school will be fully mixed.
The two school buildings are to remain, with St Joseph’s in Cunliffe Road being home to Years 7 to 9 and St Bede’s in Highgate being where the older pupils are taught.
A decline in the number of Catholics in the area led to the Diocese first considering the move – only 60 per cent of the current intake belong to the faith. If the schools are merged, there will be fewer places available to non-Catholics.
The merged school will admit 270 pupils a year, a smaller number than the 352 currently admitted to the two schools each year.
Since January, the schools have undergone a consultation process, including with parents of Catholic primary schools. Of these, 92 per cent agreed with the merger. Less popular was the name, with 32 per cent opposing the new name of St Bede’s and St Josephs Catholic High.
When pupils were asked their thoughts, 1,221 replied, with 63 per cent supporting the merger. Only 35 per cent from St Bede’s and 48 per cent from St Joseph’s supported the new name. Most agreed pupils would get a better education in mixed classes, and it was a better preparation for later life. But some did raise concerns about the merger spoiling the tradition of the schools, both of which date back over 100 years.
The Council’s executive meet in Bradford City Hall at 10.30am.