Open Meeting, 7 p.m. Thursday, 20th November
You may be aware of the discussion taking place between the school, the diocese and the local authority regarding the future of the St. Joseph’s Sixth Form. There has been a lot of discussion in the press and on social media sites regarding this issue. We are very grateful for the support we have received from so many of our past and present school community.
Given the speculation and discussion regarding this issue, we thought it would be useful to clarify the current position to reassure our pupils, parents and anyone considering pursuing their education at St. Joseph’s School and Sixth Form Centre.
1. Our Sixth Form is open and will remain open for the foreseeable future. Any attempt to close our Sixth Form would need to be approved by the Welsh Assembly Government, following a lengthy process of consultation. To date, no proposal to remove our Sixth Form has been received by the Welsh Assembly Government, and we are not aware of any plans to submit such an application.
2. We disagree with the local authority’s statement that our Sixth Form does not offer ‘value for money’. They have clearly stated that they do not see a future for our Sixth Form as part of their forward planning. Using money set aside by the Welsh Assembly Government for rebuilding and re-modelling school buildings, the local authority propose to rebuild our existing building as a 3-16 school. They have stated that they do not see that the Sixth Form offers ‘value for money’. We disagree with that statement in the strongest terms and are able to prove our position.
3. Rooted in our Catholic ethos, we believe passionately that our Sixth Form provides an excellent education for students, academically, pastorally, socially and spiritually. It has never been stronger, with over 200 pupils currently on role. This year, our AS and A-Level results were the best in the school’s history, above local authority and national averages in all key indicators. In recent years we have sent more young men and women to university than ever before. We believe our Sixth Form offers, and will continue to offer, excellent value for money.
4. Therefore, following advice from our legal representative, and taking into account the reports and recommendations of a team of architects, we are confident that there is a strong case for a rebuild of St. Joseph’s as an 11-18 school – one that would provide excellent value for money.
5. We are committed to working for a new school that is inclusive of our sixth form and are convinced that our current buildings can be maintained to a serviceable standard for several years to come. Our current school is over 50 years old but it is not falling down. We are working with an independent surveyor to ensure that we have an ongoing plan for all essential works needed to maintain our current school until a new school is built.
6. We would argue strongly that continuing to offer Catholic education at a post 16 level is worth fighting for. At present, the diocesan trustees, led by our bishop, are not supporting us in our fight to preserve post 16 education at St. Joseph’s. They would argue that we are better accepting the local authority’s proposal rather than risking Catholic education in its entirety in the borough. We believe this is a false distinction. Catholic education from 3-11 has never been under threat. The local authority has not said that it is under threat and there is no framework against which it could come under threat. It is disappointing that the school is not being supported by the diocesan trustees, and we would appeal to them to meet with us and discuss a sensible way forward.
On Thursday, 20th November we will be holding an open meeting to present these points in more detail and provide you with additional information and the opportunity to ask questions. Please come along and help us to ensure that those who have an interest in St Joseph’s Catholic school & Sixth Form can be properly informed of the key matters relating to our school.