A background paper on Immaculate Conception College, obtained by the Sentinel, cites its ‘declining enrolment’ and ‘spiralling deficit’ as areas of concern regarding its ability to deliver an appropriate education to pupils.
The paper - amended by the Catholic Council for Maintained Schools (CCMS) and submitted to the Western Education and Library Board (WELB) last year - claims the school’s deficit was projected to increase from £9,000 in 2012/13 to £666,032 in 2015/16.
“The school’s financial position is spiralling to a deficit which, given the admission numbers, is not recoverable,” the paper notes.
Commenting on enrolment the paper says numbers had fallen from 223 in 2010/11 to 124 in 2013/14. In 2012/13, 14 pupils were admitted in Year 8 but this dropped to just nine in the current school year.
The paper assesses the school across six criteria laid down in ‘A Policy for Sustainable Schools’ including enrolment and financial sustainability.
An assessment of the quality of education at the school draws mixed conclusions, pointing out that it performed below the benchmark in English (2009/10) at Key Stage 3 and on the benchmark in years 2008/9 and 2010/11.
Yet in the three years 2008/11 the school performed on or above the benchmark in Maths at Key Stage 3. The paper points out that the school performed below average when it came to the attainment of five or more GCSE A to C grades, including English and Maths last year.
But it adds the proviso that an Education and Training Inspectorate (ETI) report in 2009 reported the quality of education was good.
Crucially, it also claims that the teaching staff complement of 15.4, was financially unsustainable and that WELB had asked for a reduction but the Governors of the school couldn’t comply as this would have meant the school couldn’t deliver the statutory curriculum.
In terms of accessibility, strength of leadership and links to the community the paper scores the school fairly well.
It concludes: “In examining the sustainability of ICC under the six criteria established by ‘The Policy for Sustainable Schools’ document, it is evident that the main areas of concern regarding the school’s ability to deliver an appropriate education to pupils, now and in the future, are its declining enrolment, its increasing budget deficit and the consequent inability of the school to be able to maintain sufficient staff to deliver the curriculum.”