Government gives go-ahead for new Roman Catholic school in Peterborough

Plans for the new free school will now be consulted on
Plans for the new free school will now be consulted on
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The Government has given the go-ahead for a new Roman Catholic school in Peterborough.

The application from the Diocese of East Anglia for a new Catholic voluntary-aided primary school for the Hampton East housing development was approved by the Department for Education (DfE).

Peterborough City Council will now consult on the new school before having the final say on whether it will open or not.

Helen Bates, the diocese’s assistant director for schools, said: “This is fantastic news. It will provide the first brand-new, purpose-built Catholic school in this Diocese for decades. We would like to thank everyone who helped us make this bid a success by providing their support earlier this year.

“We will now need to go through a statutory consultation to make our case to the local education authority (Peterborough City Council) to approve the opening of the new school.

“We will be asking for people’s support once again when we do this. When this consultation starts there will be further information available on the Diocesan website at www.rcdea.org.uk/vaschools.”

She added: “We expect that this school, like most schools in the Diocese, will have a wide mix of children of all faiths and none. On average, about a third of pupils in our schools are not Catholic.”

It is expected that when the new school - if approved - is full it could have up to 90 place in each year group. It is also expected to have a nursery.

No potential opening date has yet been given.

The Diocese submitted bids for three new voluntary-aided schools, with another being at Great Haddon in Peterborough.

Ms Bates said: “We were not successful with these two bids and are waiting to find out the reasons behind this from the Government. But to be successful with one is great news.”

Voluntary-aided schools are state funded and, unlike free schools, have no limit on faith admissions.

National Secular Society chief executive Stephen Evans labelled the decision to approve a new faith school as a “regressive move” from the education secretary.

He said: “Where new schools are needed they should be organised around an inclusive community ethos, rather than an exclusive religious one. Public money should only support schools which guarantee equality of access and esteem to all pupils.

“The decision to fund Hampton Waters may well come at the expense of alternative proposals for primary schools without faith designation. It would be a grave injustice if the opening of a new faith school with the power to turn children away on religious grounds curtails plans to open an inclusive secular school that serves all families equally.”

Cllr Lynne Ayres, cabinet member for children’s services, education, skills and the university at the council, said: “We welcome the recognition from the DfE that a school is needed in the community. The DfE decision gives the city council approval to begin consultation on the establishment of this new school and ultimately the decision of whether to open the school will rest with our democratic process.

“There will be opportunities for anyone to submit their comments and/or objections during this consultation period.”