Falling roll, rising debt at St Guthlac

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COUNCIL bosses say St Guthlac School in Crowland will soon have fewer than half the number of students it needs to be “educationally and financially viable” and before long will be £1.3million in debt.

The details were revealed as part of Lincolnshire County Council’s consultation on plans to shut St Guthlac and the George Farmer Technology and Language College to pave the way for an £8million academy at the George Farmer site in Holbeach.

A consultation document states the case for shutting the Crowland school and says there are 339 pupils on its roll, short of the Government’s recommendation that secondary schools should have 600 or more to be “educationally and financially viable”.

With only 37 children selecting the school as their first choice for September 2011 the total is set to dip below 300.

The council says St Guthlac has a “significant deficit” which, with the expected loss of Government funding, will stretch to £1.3million in 2012/13.

The document also says more than 50 per cent of year ten and 11 students have to go to Holbeach for part of their studies already and that exam results are still below the national average.

Campaigners feel the council has not promoted the school properly in a bid to “run it down”.

District councillor Paul Przyszlak said: “If a business doesn’t promote itself then is it surprising when sales go down?

“We have lots and lots of questions and not a lot of answers at the moment. One thing that’s for certain is that we will be resisting to the last ounce of everyone’s energy.”

The public will be able to quiz education bosses at consultation meetings at both schools. One will be held at the St Guthlac on February 16 and one at George Farmer the following day. Both start at 6.30pm.

The council’s consultation ends on March 16 and the University of Lincoln will, at the same time, consult on the creation of the academy.

If the council’s closure plans are approved it will then hold another six week consultation before a final decision in July ahead of the proposed academy opening in September.