New Catholic Primary Schools in Cambridgeshire
The Diocese of East Anglia has submitted bids to open three new voluntary-aided Catholic primary schools in Cambridgeshire, backed by over 730 expressions of interest gathered in less than a month.
The three bids, submitted on February 1, are in areas of significant housing development – Northstowe (Cambridgeshire), Hampton East (Peterborough) and Great Haddon (Peterborough) and gained substantial public support but more is still needed, according to Helen Bates, Assistant Director for Schools.
“So far we have received 734 expressions of interest in the three schools from over 300 respondents – most people expressed interest in more than one school. So thank you to everyone who has taken the time to respond. However, we need to continue to receive more responses as the Government may ask us if this number has increased before they make a decision. Please therefore continue to do all you can to highlight this consultation to everyone you know.”
The Diocese is expecting to hear from the Government by the end of March.
“At the moment we expect that when full Northstowe and Hampton East could have 90 places in each year group, which means three classes in each year group. Gt Haddon is expected to have 60 places in each year group, or two classes. We also expect each school to have a nursery, but at the moment we don’t know how many hours the nursery will be open for each day.
“It is unlikely that the schools will start with all year groups being open. We think we’ll open the younger year groups straight away and then grow the schools one year group at a time. However, final decisions on all these matters will be made closer to the time of opening,” said Helen.
“This bidding round represents the first opportunity to build new Catholic schools in East Anglia for many years. Our Diocese has some of the severest shortages of Catholic school places in the country and, whilst there are many parts of East Anglia where we would like new schools, they have to be in areas where there is also a general shortage of places.
“We have worked closely with both Cambridgeshire County Council and Peterborough City Council, to identify these three areas where we all want more school places,” she said.
In 2017, the Diocese was preparing to submit bids for eight new free schools but, following the General Election, was not able to submit them as the Government decided not to follow-up on its manifesto promise to remove the cap on faith admissions in new free schools.
The three new bids will be for voluntary-aided (VA) schools, where there is no cap on faith admissions. VA schools, like free schools, are state-funded. Decisions on bids are expected from the Government by the end of March 2019.