News and views from north Bristol's urban village

Monday, 10 May 2010

St Ursula's to Become Boy's Academy by 2011?

In the aftermath of the general election campaign, during which Charlotte Leslie (MP) announced that St Ursula's School in Westbury on Trym was to begin the process of applying to become an academy, Trym Tales can reveal that plans are at an advanced stage for the independent Catholic School to formally seek academy status from September 2011.

Trym Tales understands that the Merchant Venturers have created a financial and educational plan which, if agreed, would see St Ursala's become a boys-only secondary school, possibly within 16 months.

The proposal for a boys' school on the St Ursula's site would complement the Merchant Venturers other flagship school - Colston's Girls' - which they support as sponsors and which was one of Britain's first independent schools to become a state-funded academy in 2008. It is understood that a "super head" would be appointed over the two schools, under the proposal.

Trym Tales understands that, while the proposed new academy (which would lose its distinctive Catholic identity) would cater for school years 7 to 11 only, the Merchant Venturers would seek at the same time to open a joint sixth form centre which would serve both Colston's Girls' and the new "St Ursula's", resulting in the closure of the sixth form at the Cheltenham Road girls' school.

It is unclear where this sixth form centre would be based, but the implication is that it could make use of the extensive grounds at St Ursula's to create a new purpose-built post-16 centre, which would be co-educational.

St Ursula's has been forced to reduce its junior school provision from this September and to close its nursery following continuing decline in its pupil numbers. The school is understood to be expecting fewer than 200 students attending its Westbury on Trym site this autumn.

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