'Bittersweet' end for Blackheath Bluecoat School after closure controversy

First published in News
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News Shopper: Photograph of the Author by , deputy news editor

A 314-year-old school which counts Rio Ferdinand and Stephen Lawrence as former pupils held a "bittersweet" service before its controversial closure.

Blackheath Bluecoat Church of England School will shut its doors for good on August 31 after Greenwich Council voted to axe it amid claims of falling pupil numbers and a rising financial deficit.

But more than 1,300 people celebrated the school’s history and achievements with a service of thanksgiving led by The Rt Revd Dr Michael Ipgrave, Bishop of Woolwich.

This was followed by an open school with activities based around the history and character of Blackheath Bluecoat.

Chair of governors David Prescott said: "It was a bitter sweet day for all who attended. Many councillors have told me privately that they now regret the closure of a good school praised by both Ofsted and the Department for Education for making rapid improvement and record GCSE results.

"It’s a great shame Greenwich schools will lose the majority of our outstanding teachers. But at least staff and pupils will be able to walk out of our gates with their heads held high before our doors are closed forever."

Headteacher Barnaby Ash said "The finale event was a fitting tribute to the life of Blackheath Bluecoat and epitomised the values the school instilled in thousands of young people during the school’s existence.

"It was very touching that each and every visitor left the finale deeply touched by the event and grateful for the way the school shaped their lives.

"Whilst the school site closes in August, the legacy will live on and continue to shape the lives of thousands of people locally and beyond."

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