Pupils from St Bede's, Cambridge
The bid by the Diocese of East Anglia to open eight new Catholic schools across the region has received a double boost with a mention by the Chancellor in his recent Budget and news that over 800 people have registered their support for the plans. Chancellor of the Exchequer, Philip Hammond, mentioned removing barriers to opening good quality faith schools in his March Budget. This follows on from Prime Minister Theresa May's announcement in the autumn on the proposed removal of the 50% cap on faith admissions.
A further boost for the bids came with news that over 800 people have expressed their support for the plan to open new Catholic schools in Norwich, Peterborough, Thetford and Cambridgeshire and for their children to attend such schools once open.
A number of local schools champions have also come forward to actively promote the bids in each of the relevant locations.
Assistant Director for Schools, Helen Bates, said: "We were pleased to see that the Chancellor mentioned removing barriers to opening good quality faith schools in the Budget, and look forward to receiving further information about the timescales for this over the next few months.
"Online registrations to support the plan have now exceeded 800 and we have had a number of schools champions come forward to promote the bid and would encourage others to come forward. We need these champions to demonstrate to the Government strong active support for our plans across the region."
East Anglia has some of the most severe shortage of places in Catholic schools in the country due to the demographic changes that have taken place in the region over the past decade.
The areas of East Anglia where the new schools are being proposed are those with some of the highest need for places and where possible sites for the schools have already been identified.
In Cambridgeshire, the Diocese wants to establish a high school and a primary school in West Cambourne and another primary in the Cherry Hinton area. The Diocese also wants to establish a new primary school in Peterborough.
A new Catholic primary school is also being proposed in Thetford within the significant new housing development planned to the north of the town, whilst two primaries and possible sixth form provision are hoped for in Norwich.
Parents can register their interest in any of the new schools at http://rcdea.org.uk/freeschools/
Anyone can express their support for the plans by 'liking' the Facebook page for the bid at: https://www.facebook.com/RCDEANewSchools/