Falling numbers forces school to close

FALLING pupil numbers have been blamed for the proposed closure of a school in Chelmsford.

James Hore

FALLING pupil numbers have been blamed for the proposed closure of a school in Chelmsford.

St Peter's College is set to close in August 2011 and Essex County Council is then hoping to build a state-of-the art vocational centre on the same site.

The college has been struggling with declining pupil numbers and headteacher, Simon Carpenter, said all options had been looked at before the “difficult decision” to close was made.

There will be no new intake of pupils from September next year, while youngsters in years seven and eight will transfer to other schools in the town.

Mr Carpenter said: “I am very proud of the progress made by the school.

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“Our priority has always been to provide the best possible standard of education and care for our students and to serve our local community. I firmly believe that is precisely what we have delivered.

“Sadly, falling pupil numbers will make the task of maintaining that quality and progress increasingly unmanageable.

“We have explored all the available options and reached the difficult conclusion that closing St Peter's College is the best way forward for education in west Chelmsford.”

Lord Hanningfield, council leader, said: “St Peter's has been struggling with declining pupil numbers for some time and the pattern of parental preferences suggests that trend is not about to change.

“However, the scheme that is on the table will address the falling numbers, while creating a new vocational centre which will mean that young people in Chelmsford and the surrounding areas aged 14 to 19 will have a broader range of educational opportunities than ever before.”

A public consultation has been launched and will run until April 6 and details of the proposal are available from at www.essex.gov.uk.