Consultation to begin over plans to close Whitby's St Hilda's school
A consultation is set to begin over plans to close a Catholic school in Whitby that is struggling to attract pupils.
The governors of St Hilda’s Roman Catholic Primary School, a voluntary aided school run by the Diocese of Middlesbrough, announced last month it wanted to move ahead with plans to close it doors.
The school currently has just 24 pupils, only four of whom are Catholic. Just two children are scheduled to start in the Reception class when the 2020/21 school year starts in September with nine set to move on to secondary schools.
The school originally had the capacity to take 105 children but this was reduced to 74 last years as the number of pupils tumbled.
On Tuesday (11th) North Yorkshire County Council is set to approve the start of a six-week consultation into the closure of the school. If the closure is approved then St Hilda’s will cease to operate on August 31 this year.
A report prepared for the county’s Corporate Director Children and Young Peoples’ Service and Executive Member Meeting adds that even if St Hilda’s was to close Whitby would still have a surplus of more than 250 school places.
Taking into account proposed housing developments it is estimated that in 2025 Whitby, again without St Hilda’s, would still have 229 available school places.
The county council report warns that due to the falling pupil numbers, the school is now estimated to have a deficit of £127,000 by the end of the 2022 school year.
The report adds: “The Diocese has confirmed that there is no evidence to support the continuation of Catholic education in Whitby, as there appear to be no other Catholic children seeking to attend the school.”
A separate staff consultation process would run in parallel with the consultation on the closure proposal, the county has revealed.
If approved on Tuesday the consultation would start on February 24, with a public meeting held on March 3.