Parents say no to new Denbigh Catholic school plan


Staff reporter

JUST three per cent of parents would ‘definitely’ send their children to a new faith-based school should a controversial merger go ahead.

That’s the result of a survey of 100 parents from St Brigid's School, Denbigh.

The snapshot poll now raises serious questions over the viability of a new-build faith based school, according to the St Brigid's Action Group which carried out the research.

As reported in last week’s Free Press the group are so concerned about a consultation questionnaire issued by Denbighshire County Council that they created their own.

“We feel that our elected representatives need more data to fully understand the impact of the potential merger, hence this survey,” said Anna Gresty, a member of the group.

“£28.8m is a lot of money to spend, the stakes are too high to get it wrong.

“Clearly if three per cent of the pupils in St Brigid’s attended any new school it wouldn’t reach Denbighshire County Council’s own viability measure of 600 pupils for an 11-16 school, even if the entire cohort of Blessed Edward Jones transferred, which seems unlikely.

“With the council predicting falling rolls over the coming years, the sustainability of the potential merger would be in serious doubt.”

Three per cent of St Brigid’s 11-16 cohort would be just nine pupils.

Blessed Edward Jones has a current roll of 490 pupils, but Denbighshire County Council has forecasted a fall in its numbers over the coming years, common amongst many of the local authority’s schools.

While the ‘definites’ polled three per cent a further 10 per cent of parents said they would decide based on location and seven per cent said they would make a decision when they knew who the staff and governing body would be.

A staggering 78 per cent would not attend a merged school outside the current Denbigh site.

“Parents also indicated overwhelmingly that quality of education is far more important to them than school buildings,” said Mrs Gresty.

“Ninety per cent said quality of education was paramount, none said that about the quality of the building.”

Parents were also happy to travel if needed, with 86 per cent saying that distance was not a major concern if they felt it was the right school for their child.

“We are more than happy to share the results of our poll with the elected representatives,” Mrs Gresty added.

A spokeswoman for Denbighshire County Council said: “The council would welcome the opportunity to consider the detailed responses of the parents’ own survey which has been undertaken by the St Brigid's Action Group.

“The recent consultation exercise being carried out by the council sought to gain a clear understanding of drivers for parental choice and the findings of this survey will assist in developing future proposals for faith based education in Denbighshire.”

See full story in the Free Press

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