A MERSEYSIDE comprehensive run jointly by the Anglican diocese
and Roman Catholic archdioceseof Liverpool, Christ the KingSchool,
Huyton, shut its doors permanently at the end of the summer term,
less than four years after it opened.
Despite a vigorous campaign bya parents' group to keep the
school open, falling levels of recruitment forced the local
authority, Knowsley Council, and the Department for Education to
issue a closure notice shortly after Easter.
The director of education for Liverpool diocese, Jon Richardson,
said that the decision was supported by the C of E and RC education
authorities, which run six other Merseyside schools jointly. "In
September, there would have been fewer than 400 pupils for 900
places at Christ the King," Mr Richardson said.
Christ the King, which served a challenging area, was the first
of seven comprehensives developed by Knowsley Council under the
previous Government's national Building Schools for the Future
programme. When it opened in January 2009, the council declared
that the architecturally advanced building would provide "a
But these hopes failed to materialise. Attempts to redevelop it
- first as a university technology college, and then as an academy
supported by Liverpool Hope University - foundered. Then, after the
school went into special measures, recruitment declined
"It was a huge disappointment, but our six other joint schools
are an excellent example of ecumenical co-operation," Mr Richardson
More than 30 Anglican/Roman Catholic maintained schools have
been established since the late 1970s. Christ the King is the third
to close. Christ's School, Richmond-upon-Thames, formed from a
merger of two denominational secondary schools, closed, but is now
a thriving C of E school.
St Augustine's, Oxford, which also served a disadvantaged area,
was the centre of a prolonged dispute, when the archdiocese of
Birmingham pulled out of the venture, againstthe wishes of many
local Roman Catholics.
Differences of emphasis between the two Churches in their
approach to education - the C of E largely community-based, the RC
more strongly denominational - need to be reconciled if joint
schools are to succeed.
In most cases, they work well, the Anglican educationist, Dr
Priscilla Chadwick, who has written widely on the subject, says:
"In the few cases where there have been problems, these have mostly
resulted from social factors."