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Bristol school closes after student numbers dwindle

By on Thursday, 5 August 2010

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”.

  • Neil Cartwright

    For the CatholicHerald record, I feel that all interested and concerned, St Ursula's School parents and teachers, should be aware that an alternative “very viable” proposal (alternative to the Oasis plans which have been broadcast all over the press) was made to Grant Thornton ahead of the school being put into administration on 3rd August. The Sisters of Mercy were offered a financial package well in excess of £1,000,000 to save the school as an independent Catholic school, so it is absolutely untrue that “no viable plan for a catholic school has been forthcoming”. The now administrators, Grant Thornton, the High School Trustees and the Sister's of Mercy all have details of these proposals and are aware of the funding details. In addition, it is understood that the Sister's of Mercy are now trying to extract as much cash from the sale of the school and site as possible, which has clearly always been their intention. The figure in question lies somewhere between £1,600,000 and £2,000,000 which highlights the “greed” with which the Sister's of Mercy have approach the schools underlying problems

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