Saving St John's

News of the (successful!) campaign to save
Waterloo's Anglican School
from the threat of closure.


Sefton Council have reversed their decision and suspended the programme of reorganisation and closures which threatened St John's School. Despite subsequent political manoeuvring at the Council, (the Crosby Herald's banner headline reporting these events simply read SHAMBLES!) the school can once again build its future and consolidate its excellent record. The people of St Faith's congratulate their neighbours on the success of the campaign and wish them every success in the critical months ahead.
We are more than happy at the end of an eventful 2004 to archive this feature in the hope that no further alarming updates will be necessary ....

October 7th, 2004: text of letter to Sefton Councillors
October 4th, 2004: two new items, from the Crosby Herald
- both at the foot of this page




Sefton Council recently announced that it was planning to close a number of primary schools within our area. Not surprisingly, the announcement caused a public outcry, and nowhere was the reaction and the opposition to closure more powerful than in the case of St John's Church of England School in Waterloo.

This small but excellent Christian school has a host of admirers and supporters, and opposition to the plans is rapidly growing, with alternative schemes being put forward in the hope that this school, in our neighbouring parish, may be saved from closure.

It is our intention at St Faith's to support the campaign through publishing information and views on this page. We begin with a letter printed on July 22nd in the 'Crosby Herald', from our Vicar, Fr Neil Kelley, who has been associated with the campaign from the start. Further articles and news are being published as they become available.


July 23rd, 2004


I share the strong feelings and anxiety of many parents, staff and governors of St John’s Church School, Waterloo, as it faces an uncertain future.

There was an excellent turnout at the meeting in Southport Town Hall a few weeks ago and those present heard our M.P.,Claire Curtis-Thomas speak passionately on behalf of all those who seek to secure the school’s future. She spoke of the valuable and important dimension that ‘faith’ schools bring to any community.

We know that it is not just Anglican Church schools which are under threat of closure but Roman Catholic schools too. I wonder whether there is a greater cause in the 21st Century that we should all be fighting for – that of establishing schools which form young people in a Christian environment, rather than an exclusive Anglican or Catholic environment?

Should the current debate not include St Edmund's School in Waterloo? Could a better way forward be provided for our young people by pooling resources of buildings, excellent teaching skills and other potential within the two schools? There are examples on Merseyside of how this can be achieved. Talk of fighting to preserve our own little corners, our own denominations, must surely be a thing of the past?

The disunity of the Christian Church is an utter disgrace and those of us who take the command of Jesus for unity seriously must do all we can to work together with Christians of other denominations.

The idea of close collaboration is shaping the way Christians in many parts of the world are approaching issues of worshipping together in a shared building, as well as providing baptism preparation, bereavement counselling and other pastoral ministries.

It strikes me that the uncertainty about provision for Christian education in this area is an issue concerning what we can do ‘Better Together’, to quote the book by Archbishop Worlock and Bishop Sheppard. We need prophets like them again.

Let us recapture some of the ecumenical vision which, at the end of the last century, characterised the spirit of the churches on Merseyside and set a pattern which many have followed worldwide.

Vicar of St Faith’s, Crosby and St Mary’s, Waterloo


July 24th/25th, 2004

The letters reproduced below speak  eloquently and strongly for themselves, and explain much of the campaign's background and strategy.
The 'purple leaflet' referred to in the last paragraph below forms the four pages which follow the letter.



July 29th, 2004

The Crosby Herald  today published a letter from the Chairman of St John’s Governors  endorsing Fr Neil’s letter and views.

Everything is possible with faith

I fully support Father Neil Kelley’s clarion call for Christian unity over Waterloo’s faith schools (Crosby Herald, July 22). Of course, St John’s is already linked to St Edmund’s through JETS, a joint ‘pre’ and ‘after’ school club, but I believe that much more can be done together. After all: through faith, all things are possible.

There is an old saying: ‘If you do not speak out when they come for your neighbours, there will be no-one left to speak out when they come for you.’ Having spent much of the past month closely studying the LEA’s proposals, I think it would be extremely foolish of St Edmund’s to believe that they are safe simply because they are not listed in the current round. The 11 closures listed for 2006 will only accomplish a quarter of the reductions that the LEA say are necessary – more will follow in future years.

I would also join Father Neil in thanking Claire Curtis-Thomas for her whole-hearted support of St John’s over this threatened closure. Having had close dealings with Claire over the past few weeks, I am sure she will not only agree with the suggestion that the two schools should explore opportunities of working together, but be willing to give both her time and considerable expertise to facilitating such explorations.

I am certainly more than happy to make a personal commitment to working together for the better provision of Christian education in Waterloo.

Chair of Governors, St John’s CE Primary School, Waterloo


August 1st, 2004

We reproduce below the text of the leaflet issued by St John's School setting forth the many powerful reasons why it should not be closed.
Watch this space for photos from the school - and make contact via either of the email addresses below to give your support or to get further information.

St John’s C.E. Primary School (Waterloo) has been shortlisted for closure in 2005

If this were to happen, what would it mean?

The community would be deprived of the unique service our school currently provides – we are a small school with a Christian ethos.

‘The headteacher, governors and staff co-operate very successfully to create a welcoming and supportive atmosphere where the Christian ethos is strongly emphasised.’ (Ofsted report 2002)

Our children would lose the benefit of the total commitment and dedication of our staff.

‘The teachers give a great deal of their own time to provide the pupils with a well-balanced programme of extra-curricular activities.’ (Ofsted report 2002)

Our parents would not continue to reap the rewards of close partnership-working.

‘We strongly believe in working in partnership – staff, children, parents, Church, governors and the wider community.’ (Vicar and Chair of Governors)

Awards, achievements and activities in a nutshell.

School achievement awards, 2002 and 2003

         Basic skills
         Quality mark
         Eco-school bronze award
         Leading literacy and numeracy throughout Sefton
         Brand new ‘Schools for the Community’ Centre
         Pro-active in training teachers for the future
         Extensive extra-curricular activities
         Exemplars of good practice
         Sefton FAST Start Right pre-school group
         Pre- and after-school groups

We intend to work together for the future of our children and school

We need your help and support

St John’s CE Primary School must not close.

August 9th, 2004

Correspondence in the ‘Crosby Herald’

When the news of the proposed closure first broke, the letters pages of our local paper were swamped with protests at the proposals. The correspondence continues, with letters in the August 5th issue presenting contrasting views. The paper provided the 'headlines'.

'Heed the Message'

Father Kelley’s moving call for church schools to work more closely together as a model of ecumenism should be heeded (Crosby Herald, July 22nd and above).

Anglican and Catholic primary schools in our area could fruitfully consider the suggestions that he makes, such as sharing resources and teachers. Perhaps they already do. However, the answer in Crosby and Waterloo cannot be to close existing successful schools.

In areas where church schools are lacking it may make sense to open an ecumenical school. Our community schools offer the opportunity for youngsters to be formed in a Christian environment which is not distinctive of any one denomination or tied to a particular church.

The Church school may go further and introduce children to the practices of a church, offer them the counsel of trained professionals and build up a relationship with church members.

This partnership, known as the dual system, has worked well since it was introduced in 1944. Jewish schools, and now some Muslim schools, are part of this system too.

Penny Thompson

'Asset Continues'

There are a couple of things I feel I should write in order to clarify recent statements in the Crosby Herald.

The principle of ‘Better Together’, which has been the rallying cry in recent years for Christians, non-Christians and all faiths to work together more closely as one, is a very sound principle and the Catholics of Crosby I’m sure would support it completely. In some instances this principle has helped us move forwards towards shared churches and even shared schools.

Yet, while there has been steady work over the years to improve and enhance our schools, it is not always necessarily better to join together, since each school has its own ethos, governing body agreements and legal status under a body of trustees.

Proposed school closures in the area have been a cause of sadness and anxiety to everyone concerned. In an area where schools have been well-established for several years, the good of each school is often served by preserving the existing structures. In a new area, or in certain circumstances, a joint Catholic/non-Catholic school may be thought desirable. However, where two schools are dealing with their own particular difficulties and challenges, it is not always the solution to combine. The tone and character of each school is unique.

The churches of Crosby have a good track record of friendship and Christian partnership. If we continue to meet, consult each other and understand each other, this great asset to our community will continue.

Monsignor John Furnival
SS Peter and Paul R.C. Church, Crosby


October 4th, 2004

Last week's 'Crosby Herald' carried a report and a letter about the recent 'Fun Day' held by 'PAC' - Parents Against Closure - as part of the ongoing campaign.


 School so Hopeful

   We are writing with regard to the excellent 
   day we had at St John's Primary School, 

   The school held a BBQ/funday to raise 
   awareness of its campaign against closure.

   This was the first time we had been to the 
   school and we received a very warm welcome.

   Although it is a very emotional time, the 
   atmosphere was one of great happiness and 
   hope and it was nice to see Claire
   Curtis-Thomas and family lending their 

   Thank you to headteacher Mrs Lyonette for 
   making us very welcome and well done to the 
   Parents Against Closure team who organised a 
   very enjoyable day.

   Good luck with the campaign!

   Mr and Mrs Keating,


October 7th, 2004

As the campaign enters a critical phase, we reproduce below an eloquent letter to Sefton Councillors.

A letter of support for St John’s, C.E. Primary School, Waterloo.

Dear Councillor,

Re: Proposed Closure of St John’s C. E. Primary School, Waterloo,

Your Opportunity to Save a Great Resource for Sefton Children.

As the “Informal Consultation” period comes to an end I write to appeal to you to consider why so many parents of our excellent school have written letters - held Fun Days - supported Open Days -  made ‘phone calls  -  visited Council Offices  -  attended Consultation Meetings over the past 3 months -  and last, but not least –  why MORE children attend St John’s School this term than was predicted or expected. Indeed ONE more Reception child arrived on Day 1 than was expected. Also, though one Key Stage child moved away over the summer holidays, 4 MORE enrolled in September.

Does this not say that the community, the voters of this Borough, have a confidence in St John’s School? – a confidence that some of our elected Councillors are afraid to share. I trust you are not one of the latter.

Why do these PARENTS have such a confidence?

1. St John’s is a warm, safe, encouraging, nurturing community for their children
2. It has an academic record that is very good and continues to improve
3. It has a teaching staff as skilled and dedicated as any in the Borough
4. It is ably led by a competent and hardworking Head
5. It has a clean, modern building offering facilities any child and parent could wish for
6. It is surrounded by gardens, landscaped green areas, excellent play equipment [purchased by parents], playgrounds and games/athletics field
7. it is placed on a green site with no pollution [unlike possible alternative schools] and offers the children an environment unequalled in Waterloo
8. Its ethos is gently but definitely based on Christian principles, where no one is proselytised but all faiths valued and encouraged. [ask our Muslim parents!]
9. It has a long history of serving and caring for families within the community of Waterloo

I could go on!  - not least about its financial stability and viability.

I strongly urge you to consider most seriously the case the St John’s School Governors place before you this week. This is truly one of Sefton’s hidden gems [a sign to the school on St John’s Rd would help!]

If allowed to die this is one school that would be impossible to resurrect – it would be lost for ever. YOU have the opportunity of saving it for today’s children and for future generations. I pray that you will do so.

May God Bless you in all your deliberations and direct your decisions.

October 2004.



Email to the Revd Alan Brooks, Assistant Curate, St John’s Church

Email to Mr Paul Baker, the Chairman of Governors, St John’s School

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