Victory! Plans dropped to replace community school with CofE school

28 May, 2024

Plans to close the only school of no religious character in its area and replace it with a Church of England school have been scrapped. The move has been welcomed by Humanists UK, who has been working with teachers, parents, and the National Education Union (NEU) to stop the proposal, as a victory for the local community. 

St Jude’s Church of England Primary School was proposed to effectively take over Charlotte Sharman Primary School in Southwark to tackle falling roll numbers across the two primary schools. But in a letter to parents it has now announced the dropping of the plans due to significant public backlash. Throughout the consultation process parents, teaching unions, and the local community were clear in their opposition to the merger.

Humanists UK worked closely with and supported parents and teachers during the consultation. Responding to the consultation itself, Humanists UK raised concerns about the implications of the merger on school admissions and employment policies, and the teaching of Religious Education (RE) which would have been taught from a Christian perspective and not be pluralistic – as required in a school of no religious character. It also questioned why the plan would result in a faith school when Charlotte Sharman had more children on its roll, and highlighted how the plan was unreflective of the local community. Half of the children at Charlotte Sharman are from a Muslim background, and a further 17 per cent come from families of no faith.

Humanists UK’s Education Campaigns Manager Lewis Young said:

‘The decision to drop plans to close the only school with no religious character in St George’s ward is a victory for the local community who were clear in their opposition to the plans for a new faith school to replace it. We’re pleased the school governors have listened to these concerns and responded positively to them.’


For further comment or information, media should contact Humanists UK Director of Public Affairs and Policy Richy Thompson at or phone 0203 675 0959.

Read more about our work on faith schools. 

Read about the school merger plans. 

Read our consultation response. 

Humanists UK is the national charity working on behalf of non-religious people. Powered by over 120,000 members and supporters, we advance free thinking and promote humanism to create a tolerant society where rational thinking and kindness prevail. We provide ceremonies, pastoral care, education, and support services benefitting over a million people every year and our campaigns advance humanist thinking on ethical issues, human rights, and equal treatment for all.