Award-winning school likely to close despite 1700 signing a petition to save it

The school has been around for 150 years Credit: LDRS

Parents look set to lose their campaign to save a closure-threatened primary school in inner-city Bristol.

The city council’s cabinet is expected to shut the award-winning St Barnabas Primary School in Montpelier at the end of August.

They will meet next month to make a final decision, despite more than 1700 people signing a petition to keep it open.

It follows a steady drop in pupil numbers and a request from governors to carry out a consultation about its future.

Distraught parents are worried there will not be places for all youngsters to attend other local schools and some with SEND children fear they will struggle to find a suitable mainstream alternative.

Bristol City Council’s cabinet forward plan says members will be asked at their February meeting “to seek approval for the closure of St Barnabas C of E Primary School with effect from 31 August 2023”.

The small school, which opened 150 years ago, is one of the few remaining local authority-run schools in the area after several new multi-academy trusts (MATs) were built nearby.

Only 70 pupils are enrolled, despite it having the capacity for more than 200, and the declining numbers mean less funding and classes combining year groups.

Suggestions to convert the school into a specialist provision or to join a MAT have been deemed unviable.

Parents say the opening of two new local primary schools in 2012 and 2015 meant there was an over-provision of pupil places in the area, which caused a “dramatic” reduction in children attending St Barnabas.

Metro mayor Dan Norris officially opening a mural at St Barnabas primary school in Montpelier in July 2022 Credit: LDRS

The school won a prestigious National Covid Response Award two years ago, beating off competition from schools such as Eton College after it provided every child with a laptop to continue learning from home.

The council has said it will ensure local school places for all families if it closes.

A spokesperson said last month, “Following a steady decline in pupil numbers, the school’s governing body decided, with the support from council officers, to carry out a formal process to consult parents, carers, and other stakeholders about its future.

“No decisions have been made and parent and carer feedback is vital to ensure school leaders and council officers can make appropriate recommendations.”

That consultation closed on 16 December and the results will be considered by cabinet next month along with an expected recommendation from officers to shut the school.

Credit: Local Democracy Reporter Service/Adam Postans

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