The Sisters of Mercy, who own the Bristol school, said they could no longer keep it viably as a Catholic school

An independent Catholic school in Bristol is to close, after going into administration. St. Ursula’s school, set up by the Sisters of Mercy, went into administration on Tuesday following a sharp decline in numbers of pupils. A statement from the administrators on Tuesday stated that pupil numbers had fallen from around 400 to just 160, causing the school to no longer be “financially viable”.

Over 40 staff have lost their jobs as a result of the news. A rescue offer, which included a package to cover unpaid salaries fell through. The deal with Oasis Community Learning had included money set aside to cover the £75,000 salaries bill, as well as plans to continue the school as a fee-charging institution for a further year before attempting to transform it into a state-funded academy.

But the Sisters of Mercy have rejected the deal, saying that they could only support a deal which would keep the school Catholic. A statement made by the Sisters of Mercy stated that they “are not trying to force the closure of St Ursula’s School”, but that they “have been open with the school’s trustees that we can only invest in any new plan for the school if it continues to be a Catholic school”.

The nuns added, that “no viable plan for a Catholic school has been forthcoming”, and that they are “open to the use of the St Ursula’s property as a non-denominational school but as of this moment, no-one has come forward with sufficient funds to set up and ensure the long term viability of a new school.”

Bristol City Council has released a joint statement with Oasis Community Learning, saying that the Council “was deeply saddened” to hear of the school’s closure, and that the council “has been actively supporting recent efforts by Oasis to step in and safeguard a future for the school”.