IN THE WAKE of the closure of the Benedictine colleges of Buckfast and Belmont, Catholic independent schools faced a further blow this week with the announcement that yet another Benedictine boys' boarding school will close in July.
However, St Augustine's College and the Abbey School, in Westgate-on-Sea, Kent is to team up with the Ursuline Convent down the road to form a new co-educational school to be run by the Ursulines.
Benedictine monks, who founded St Augustine's College and the Abbey School in 1865, say that falling numbers of pupils and escalating costs are to blame for the closure of the 150-pupil school.
Fr Augustine Coyle OSB, headmaster of St Augustine's, will stay on as educational coordinator of the new school. He told the Catholic Herald that the new school would retain a single sex policy in classes between the ages of 11 and 16, so that parents have the "options of both coed and single sex benefits for their children". Sr Margaret Mary CRSS, of the Nineteen Nineties Group co-ordinating committee, said that the closure reflected the "hard time all independent schools have had during the recession.
"Many Catholic parents have lost their commitment to Catholic schools",she said.