Meridian Trust has been granted approval by the Secretary of State to sponsor a proposed new primary free school in the village of Sawtry, Cambridgeshire.
With planning approval granted for three large developments in Sawtry, Cambridgeshire County Council have identified a need for a new primary school for the village with a proposed opening date of September 2023.
The school will be built with the facilities required to offer up to 420 places in line with housing growth and increased pupil numbers over the next few years. There will also be provision for Early Years and childcare for children aged 2-4 years.
Following a sponsor selection process, a recommendation was made to the Children and Young People’s committee on 1st March to seek approval for Meridian Trust (formerly Cambridge Meridian Academies Trust) to be named as the approved sponsor for the new primary school in Sawtry. This was endorsed by members and has now been approved by the Secretary of State.
Meridian Trust are the sponsors of 28 schools, including 14 primary schools, 12 secondary school and two special educational needs schools. The Trust are a key part of the Sawtry community and became the sponsor of Sawtry Village Academy in 2015, closely followed by Sawtry Junior Academy in 2016.
Meridian Trust also run the leisure facilities at Academy Leisure Sawtry and their operations team are based in the village, employing over 280 staff in the Sawtry area.
Lesley Birch, Deputy CEO of Meridian Trust, said: “We are thrilled to have been selected as the sponsor for this brand-new primary school in Sawtry and our colleagues are excited to begin supporting the project.
"There is no doubt that the new primary and nursery provision will make a fantastic addition to the village and will provide much needed school places as it continues to grow.
“We’re proud that our proven approach, over the last ten years, has elevated us to a respected and admired academy trust, a national leader in education and a source of great pride to the communities we serve. With our experience at Sawtry Village Academy, Sawtry Junior Academy and Academy Leisure Sawtry, we are at the heart of the Sawtry community and welcome this opportunity to develop it further.”
Councillor Simon Bywater, Ward Councillor for Sawtry, said: “This is a big moment for Sawtry and a big statement for the village. There have been lots of obstacles to overcome to get to this point, including Covid. I want to thank the Meridian Trust for their commitment to Sawtry and our surrounding villages.
“Having good local schools on our doorstep is what every family wants and deserves no less. Cambridgeshire has some of the best primary schools in the country and I’m certain that our new school here in Sawtry is going to educate and inspire children for many years to come.
The existing Principal of Sawtry Junior Academy, Sarah Flack, will be the opening headteacher drawing on her existing relationships with the village community and local providers.
The school will draw on the trust school improvement team, SEND expertise, and networks. HR, Site, Finance and IT capability is available within the village.
Sarah said: “I am delighted to be supporting this fantastic new development for Sawtry. I look forward to working with all education providers in the village to build on our existing partnerships and provide the best possible education for the children in our community.”
For more information about the new primary school, visit: www.cambridgeshire.gov.uk/residents/children-and-families/schools-learning/school-changes-consultations/new-primary-school-for-sawtry.
For more information about Meridian Trust, visit: www.meridiantrust.co.uk.