Whilst we want new schools in Norwich, Cambridge, Thetford and Peterborough, the decision on exactly where the new schools will be rests with the Department for Education. Their decision will be based on where there is need for more places and a Catholic need, but also on where new free schools have already been allocated and the sites that are available.
At the moment we have suggested possible sites in West Cambourne for a primary and secondary school, Cherry Hinton in Cambridge for a primary, in the Hamptons in Peterborough and in north Thetford, both for primaries. We also want primary schools in central and north Norwich as well as a sixth form in Norwich, but we haven’t identified a site for these yet.
We don’t know exactly yet. The bids have to be in during March and we may not know anything until September 2017. When we have more definite timescales, we’ll update these FAQs.
It takes a long time to build a new school, especially getting planning permission. We think the earliest we could open a new primary school would be September 2019, but that depends on whether there are enough children in the area needing a school place. A secondary school would probably not be ready until September 2020 at the earliest.
At the moment we think the primary schools will have 60 places in each year group. However, it’s unlikely to start with that every year group will be open. We think we’ll open the younger year groups straight away and then grow the school one year group at a time. We also hope the new schools will have a nursery, but all of these decisions will need to be made with the Department for Education’s agreement and will depend on how many children there are in the area at the time the school opens.
Admissions to any of the new schools has to follow the law, known as the Admissions Code of Practice. In a Catholic school, if there are more children wanting to go to the school than there are places available, priority will be given to baptised Catholic children and then on the basis of who lives the nearest to the school. School places cannot be reserved for Catholics if a place is available and there isn’t a Catholic who wants that place.
However, if you would be interested in your child going to one of the schools, please sign up on our register of interest as this could help in making our case to the Department for Education to allow us to open these schools. You can do this at https://rcdea.org.uk/freeschools/