TWO Greenwich Catholic secondary schools that have been campaigning for extra money to expand their fifth and sixth forms are a step closer to success after a delegation of MPs, headteachers and governors met the Education Minister, Michael Fallon, earlier this week to put their case.
Oversubscribed St Paul's Secondary School in Plumstead and St Thomas More Secondary School in Eltham were told in September that they could not have funds to expand classes from three streams to four as spare places were available in nearby non-Catholic schools.
In common with other Catholic schools around the country that have been denied funds for expansion on similar grounds, parents and teachers from the two schools launched a campaign of letter-writing and prayer which last month appeared to have paid off when the government, in a complete reversal of policy, promised to provide money for popular schools to expand regardless of whether places were available in other less popular schools.
The delegation from St Paul's and St Thomas More which comprised local Greenwich MPs John Cartwright and Peter Bottomley, the headteachers and chairs of the boards of governors of the two mixed secondaries, and two local parish priests was seeking to persuade Mr Fallon that the two schools should benefit from these new government funds, thought to be in the region of /20 million annually.
"We demonstrated to him that our case for expansion rests on the popularity of the schools, the clear demand of the Catholic community, and the difficulty of delivering the national curriculum within small schools," said Fr Edgar Dunn, a governor of St Paul's and a local parish priest, who attended the meeting.
Fr Dunn said that the minister had indicated the schools had a strong case.