Publication Date: 10 January 2024
Gunnersbury Catholic School
Statutory Proposal: Prescribed Alteration To A School
On Tuesday 19th December 2023 the Governing Body of Gunnersbury Catholic School reached the decision to publish a Statutory Notice on the proposal to make a prescribed alteration to the school’s admissions process. The Roman Catholic Diocese of Westminster has provided its in-principle support to the proposed change.
Name, address and contact details of the proposer
Gunnersbury Catholic School
Middlesex, TW8 9LB
Tel: 0208 568 7281
School Local Authority
London Borough of Hounslow
7 Bath Road
Hounslow, TW3 3EB
Description of prescribed alteration
The Governing Body of Gunnersbury Catholic School seeks to change the school’s pupil admissions gender criteria from boys only to coeducational (mixed gender). It is sought for the first coeducational cohort to be our Year 7 intake of September 2025. Over subsequent years, Gunnersbury would become progressively gender-mixed i.e. as the initial Year 7 moves into Year 8 and so forth.
Gunnersbury Catholic School’s establishment of this proposal and the associated measures have been produced with regard to the Department for Education’s statutory guidance 2023 on making significant changes to maintained schools (Appendix 1).
Objectives of prescribed alteration
The prescribed alteration to our admissions would provide an appropriate and necessary response in addressing the overwhelming local parental/guardian demand for Catholic coeducational secondary provision.
Within Gunnersbury Catholic School’s local vicinity (namely the London Boroughs of Hounslow and Ealing) there is considerable unmet demand for Catholic coeducational secondary school places. ‘First-choice’ preference applications for the local Catholic coeducational secondary schools extensively exceed the Year 7 admission capacity (Pupil Admission Numbers - PANs) of these schools. In contrast, 'first-choice’ preferences for our single-sex Catholic educational provision have declined to levels considerably below PAN. Through transitioning to coeducation, Gunnersbury would be responding to the overwhelming demands of local families for a mixed Catholic secondary education for their children i.e. should Gunnersbury become a mixed school we can assist in meeting the significant deficit of mixed Catholic secondary school places locally.
At Gunnersbury Catholic School we provide for our students a caring, inclusive, Catholic education – one that enables superb outcomes, on all levels, for these young people. Gunnersbury’s Ofsted inspection of January 2023 deemed that Gunnersbury continues to be an Outstanding school in every aspect of our provision. Academically, Gunnersbury students consistently achieve to a level that is amongst the very best in the country. Our 2023 Progress 8 score of +1.11 places the progress of Gunnersbury’s GCSE students within the top 2% of all schools nationally. Additionally, the examination outcomes of our Sixth Form (which is already coeducational) are excellent.
The staff of Gunnersbury Catholic School are skilled educators, trained to teach all genders. The school outcomes reflect their expertise as educators; furthermore the success of our boys and girls in the Sixth Form, reflect Gunnersbury Catholic School’s capability to secure the very best achievement within a mixed setting. Gunnersbury Catholic School’s individualised approach to guiding students, applied to a fully mixed setting, would enable successful learning strategies to be implemented based on the needs of each specific student - regardless of gender. Adjusting Gunnersbury’s admissions policy to coeducational entry will enable both girls and boys to experience and benefit from Gunnersbury’s outstanding education from Year 7 all the way through to Year 13.
Gunnersbury Catholic School considers that adjusting our admissions to coeducational would:
- Appropriately respond to the overwhelming and extensively unmet local parental/guardian demand for Catholic secondary mixed-gender schooling
- Further our rich diversity – a foundation of our Catholic values
- Create a school setting that further reflects the composition and desired dynamics of modern society, thereby most effectively affording pupils with experiences and learning that best prepares them to positively contribute to our world now and in the future
- Build upon our legacy of educational excellence with the future provision of high-quality Catholic education for both girls and boys of the local community
Considered effect of the proposal on other educational institutions
No doubt in part due to Gunnersbury Catholic School’s location which directly abuts the boundary of Ealing local authority; only 39% of our pupils reside in our home borough of Hounslow. In fact Gunnersbury Catholic School’s intake is drawn from 15 different Local Authorities and over 170 primary schools. As such the governing body considers that any redistribution of student applications, were there a change to coeducation at Gunnersbury Catholic School, will likely be spread across a number of boroughs; minimally influencing the pupil applications at any one particular school.
Financial implications of the proposal
The proposal does not involve alteration of the Pupil Admission Number (PAN) at Gunnersbury Catholic School i.e. it is proposed to remain at 184. Transitioning to become a coeducational school would therefore not alter the current financial arrangements for Gunnersbury Catholic School over the long term. The current educational provision at Gunnersbury reflects excellent value for money. Were Gunnersbury to become a mixed gender school, there would be initial ‘one-time’ costs associated with the provision of further girls’ bathrooms. It is estimated that the bathrooms will cost circa £38K – this would be met through the capital funding at Gunnersbury.
Implementation considerations for the proposal
The Governors of Gunnersbury Catholic School undertook a comprehensive pre-statutory consultation on the proposal to transition to become a coeducational school. The pre-statutory consultation sought to: widely communicate the proposal; enable stakeholder comment and dialogue on the matter with the school (Appendix 2 – Prestatutory Consultation Report). The overwhelming majority of responses received through the pre-statutory consultation were in favour of Gunnersbury Catholic School becoming coeducational. Nevertheless, the governing body recognised that a minority of stakeholders were not in favour of the proposal. A set of frequently asked questions/themes with answers was produced to address apprehensions that stakeholders have shared (Appendix 3 – Frequently Asked Questions/Themes). All stakeholders’ responses were considered by the governing body before they reached their decision to progress to the Statutory Notice.
Were approval granted for transition to coeducational status, it is planned for the first mixed Year 7 intake to join Gunnersbury Catholic School in September 2025. In advance of this date, alterations to the bathroom facilities would be made to enable sufficient capacity for girls. To minimise any impact on current students, the change to admitting both girls and boys would be progressive. In September 2025 the change to mixed education would begin with Year 7 – the transition to a mixed school would then take place year by year whereby the initial Year 7s move into Year 8 and so forth. As a result, any students who had joined Gunnersbury prior to September 2025 would still be taught in single-sex subject and tutor groups until they joined the Sixth Form.
Statutory Notice Date
The publication date for this notice is 10 January 2024.
Procedure for individuals and organisations to respond to the proposal
Within four weeks (representation period) from the date of publication of this statutory notice, any person or organisation may submit an objection to and/or comment on the proposal. All objections and comments will be taken into account by the decision maker, London Borough of Hounslow, in their process to reach a decision on the proposal.
Such responses – in objection, of support, or otherwise – to the proposal should be emailed to Hounslow Local Authority using the address: email@example.com
Alternatively responses can be posted to:
School Organisation Officer School Organisation and Access to Education Lifelong Learning, Skills and Employment London Borough of Hounslow Hounslow House 7 Bath Road Hounslow, TW3 3EB
Closing date for responses is 12pm on Wednesday 7 February 2024. Responses received after this representation period cannot be considered.
Obtaining paper copies of the Statutory Notice
A copy of the complete proposal can also be obtained by:
writing to Gunnersbury Catholic School
Middlesex, TW8 9LB
Appendix 2 Prestatutory Consultation Report
Appendix 3 Frequently Asked Questions/Themes