Frustrated Hampton mum could face Bretton school trips despite new primary opening across the road

A mother who moved into a new development in Hampton said she is “disappointed” that she faces having to send her son to school in Bretton despite a new primary opening across the road.

By Joel Lamy
Thursday, 28th January 2021, 4:55 am

Jodie Brooks and sons Jack (9) and Charlie (7) got the keys to their new home at Hampton Water in September 2019 with Jodie looking forward to her children being able to attend the new school which had been earmarked for the site.

But she said she faces a logistical “nightmare” with Charlie at risk of missing out on a place because the new primary will be run as a Catholic school when it opens next year, with the vast majority of pupils chosen on their faith rather than their location.

Charlie currently attends a school in Bretton with the city council paying for him to be transported there and back, but with Jodie facing trips to London when lockdown ends she is desperate to get him into the new St John Henry Newman School which was given the green light last year, despite a vocal campaign from local residents and councillors who said parents were being ‘discriminated’ against.

The site of the new school in Hampton Water

Jodie told the Peterborough Telegraph she regretted moving to Hampton Water (which is part of the wider Hamptons East development) after choosing the area over Hampton Vale where Jack currently attends the primary school.

She said: “When we moved there appeared to be plenty of schools within the local vicinity and I was aware of the school they were building in Hampton Water itself.

“Jack has got a place at Hampton Vale Primary School but there were no spaces for Charlie so he was placed in Bretton.

“This is a real nightmare as a single parent as I have a new job that will involve travel into London when we can, so it will be a real headache trying to organise logistics as I can’t be in two places at once.

“Charlie gets home to school transport at the moment. I need Charlie at a breakfast and after school club but the local authority doesn’t fund transport at those times.

“Where I live the new school will be just down the road. It seems particularly unfair there are so many kids including my own struggling to get a local school place yet two blocks down we’ll have a primary school we might not be able to access.

“If I’d have known we wouldn’t be able to access it potentially and there was going to be such an issue getting into a more local school I probably would have gone for one of the houses I was looking at in Hampton Vale. There is an issue in the area for local schools which needs addressing.”
The new maintained voluntary aided school run by the Diocese of East Anglia school will be the first state-funded Catholic school in England for more than 10 years.

It is being 90 per cent funded by the Government and is planned to open in September 2022, initially for 90 pupils before eventually reaching 630.

It will also have a 30 place nursery.

If the school is oversubscribed then 20 per cent of the pupils will be chosen based on their proximity to it, with 80 per cent selected on religious grounds, although Peterborough City Council has acknowledged that the admissions policy will be “reviewed annually by the school governing body”.

Despite a challenge by councillors to overturn the decision to approve the new school failing, local residents have begun a new petition on the authority’s website calling for a U-turn.

The petition states: “We make this request as more residents have moved into the area and were unaware of this decision and are struggling to find local school places.

“Residents are using schools over three miles away and this is not part of the council’s sustainable policies and will be putting more financial pressure on the council to fund transport to these schools.”

However, the council told the Peterborough Telegraph: “This decision has been made and there is no mechanism for forcing a reversal of it.”

A spokesperson added: “The vast majority of schools every year receive applications in excess of places, particularly popular schools.

“The number of applications received is not an indicator of whether or not children will get places at the schools in question.

“October 2020 census data shows that once the 2020 application round was completed there were 18 vacant Reception places at Hampton Lakes and 25 vacant Reception places at Hampton Vale during this school year 2020/21.

“The forecasting evidence available indicates that there will, in all likelihood, be sufficient places available for the local community in future years.

“This is certainly the case with other Roman Catholic schools operating in Peterborough - on average 40 per cent of pupils at Roman Catholic schools in the city are not of Roman Catholic faith.”

Jodie said she has no issue with her son attending a Catholic school as “they have very good reputations,” but added that Charlie is already missing out with his friends by not going to a school near where he lives.

A spokesperson for the Diocese of East Anglia said: “Plans for building St John Henry Newman School are going ahead as expected. A planning application will soon be submitted to the city council and further information about this can be found at https://dppukltd.com/st-johnhenrynewman/.

“It is anticipated that building work will start in the summer with the school opening in September 2022. In the meantime any new information or progress on the new school will be posted on its website at https://st-johnhenrynewman.org.uk/.

“The Diocese of East Anglia continues to work with Peterborough City Council to closely monitor the number of pupils likely to require a place at St John Henry Newman School next September. If the council decides that pupil numbers in the local area mean more classes need to open at the school in the first year the Diocese will be happy to do this.”

Humanists UK education campaigns manager Dr Ruth Wareham said: “Local children should be able to access school places regardless of their background and those schools should provide an inclusive curriculum that is suitable for everyone irrespective of religion or belief.”