Appeal launched to prevent new Catholic school in Peterborough

An appeal has been launched over a decision to open a new Roman Catholic school in Hampton.

Tuesday, 28th January 2020, 5:01 am
Updated Tuesday, 28th January 2020, 5:25 am

City council cabinet member for education Cllr Lynne Ayres signed off on the controversial primary school yesterday (Monday), prompting three councillors to immediately call the decision in (formally challenge it).

A council scrutiny committee is now expected to hear the call-in with members able to ask Cllr Ayres to re-think her decision if a majority are swayed by the arguments put forward by the opponents of the new school.

Outlining their opposition to the plans for the new 630 place school at the Hampton Water development off the A15, councillors Terri Haynes and Nick Sandford (Lib Dems) and Nicola Day (Green Party) criticised the council’s four week public consultation.

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Councillors Terri Haynes and Nicola Day at Hampton Water

They wrote: “A large number of local residents have told us they feel the council has failed to either inform or consult them properly.

“Peterborough City Council’s consultation was not limited to residents who live within the proposed school’s catchment area or Peterborough. Of the 1,911 responses received, just seven per cent were submitted from residents who live in the PE7 postcode (where the school would be built), while only 7.2 per cent were identifiable as being from the wider area within Peterborough City Council’s boundaries.

“We do not agree that these figures support the council’s conclusion that there is ‘very strong support for a Roman Catholic school’ in Hampton Water.”

It has been reported that the new school would be the first state-funded Catholic school in England for more than 10 years.

However, campaigners have described it as “discriminatory” for being able to prioritise pupils on faith over location, while there are concerns over increased traffic coming from the A15.

The new maintained voluntary aided school run by the Diocese of East Anglia is due to open in September 2022, initially for 90 pupils before eventually reaching 630.

It would also have a 30 place nursery.

It is being 90 per cent funded by the Government - which has given its backing to the school - with the council having to pay between £1.1 million and £1.5 million.

Originally, the diocese was planning to make selection 100 per cent faith based, but this has been changed. Instead, if the school is oversubscribed 20 per cent of the pupils will be chosen based on their proximity to it rather than on religious grounds.

However, the council has acknowledged that the admissions policy will be “reviewed annually by the school governing body”.

When it became clear earlier this month that the council was planning to give the school the go ahead the National Secular Society said it would explore the possibility of a legal challenge.

The council’s backing for the new Catholic school comes after a public consultation for which there were 1,911 responses with 83 per cent (1,585) in favour of it.

It said that it was “satisfied” that the diocese will be able to “fulfil all of the requirements regarding its responsibilities around integration and community”.

It also noted that the new school “is the most cost efficient of the options available to it at this time” and that parents living in Hampton would be able to apply to send their children to another local school, including another one at Hampton Water.

Hampton Water is part of the Hamptons East development which, when completed, will see 3,050 new homes built.