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New Catholic schools set to open across Norfolk if faith admissions cap is lifted

PUBLISHED: 12:12 13 December 2016 | UPDATED: 12:12 13 December 2016

Notre Dame High School. Finkelgate entrance. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Notre Dame High School. Finkelgate entrance. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Archant

Four new Catholic schools could be opened in the region as The Catholic Diocese of East Anglia is poised to take advantage of a proposed removal of the 50pc faith admissions cap.

A Government consultation on lifting the cap which ended yesterday would permit oversubscribed free schools to select more pupils according to their faith, and pave the way for more Catholic schools to open.

The Diocese say if the cap is removed they are “in a position to act straight away to move towards the opening of new schools.”

A new Catholic primary school is being proposed in Thetford within the new housing development planned to the north of the town, while two primaries and possible sixth form provision are hoped for in Norwich.

The Sacred Heart Convent School in Swaffham is also considering proposals for a new free school as well as possible expansion plans.

Assistant director for the Schools Commission for the Diocese of East Anglia, Helen Bates, said the new schools are “desperately needed to meet the demand we already have here in East Anglia.”

“For the Catholic Church, the cap has meant it has been unable to open any new Catholic schools in case it results in Catholic children being turned away from a Catholic school,” she said. “In East Anglia we have some of the most severe shortages of places, which is why we want to bid for so many new schools.”

Brian Conway, Chief Executive Officer of the St John the Baptist Catholic Multi-Academy Trust, which currently covers six primaries and a high school in Norfolk and north Suffolk, said: “We have a real need for Catholic primary school places in north Norwich and this is growing as large housing developments in places like Sprowston and Rackheath are planned. 
“A school in north Norwich could serve a Catholic need from this housing as well as an existing need across north Norfolk where there are no Catholic schools. We are also considering the possibility of new sixth form provision in central Norwich, which could be linked to extra 11-16 places at Notre Dame High School.”

The plans, floated in a Government green paper, have been described as “the very opposite of integration” by the British Humanist Association (BHA).

BHA Director of Public Affairs and Policy Pavan Dhaliwal called the proposals “divisive and discriminatory”, and called the Government to “reaffirm its commitment to ensuring integration in the education system and the fair access of local families to local schools,” by scrapping the plans.

“Integration cannot be meaningfully achieved unless schools are open to and inclusive of all children, regardless of their religious or non-religious backgrounds,” she said.

6 comments

  • Freedom of choice in schools is clearly a concept the BHA is afraid of.

    Report this comment

    kenneth jessett

    Tuesday, December 13, 2016

  • religion, the main cause of wars and violence world wide, and here they are wanting to push it down the throats of children, this is the 21th century, there is no place for this nonsense in today's world.

    Report this comment

    ted

    Tuesday, December 13, 2016

  • This sounds about right, a good thing to do allowing children to attend their school of choice. Curiously, the BHA seems to be rejecting the idea of freedom of choice, maybe because it doesn't suit their philosophy?

    Report this comment

    kenneth jessett

    Tuesday, December 13, 2016

  • Hopefully the Government will see sense and not abolish the cap. A week after the Casey Review highlighted issues with integration and social cohesion, the further separation of children into schools based on the religious beliefs of their parents is nonsensical and a backwards step. We should be abolishing religious (faith) schools not opening even more! Pavan Dhaliwal from the British Humanist Association (BHA) is dead right.

    Report this comment

    skepticpete

    Tuesday, December 13, 2016

  • Philos, you are simply parotting the British Humanist Association line. And you complain about indoctrination . . .

    Report this comment

    urban seagull

    Tuesday, December 13, 2016

  • At a time when much of the world is being torn apart by religion that proves itself to intolerant and divisive the Government, not learning from N.Ireland, introduces a law that will divide communities. Will those of no faith, over half the country at the last count, have to drive miles to find a school that will not indoctrinate their children? Scrap this policy before our towns and cities are divided by conflict.

    Report this comment

    philos

    Tuesday, December 13, 2016

The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily reflect the views of this site

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