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“We need a respectful, mutual listening, free of ideology and predetermined agendas.” Pope Francis, Let us Dream, December 2020

East Anglia looks to add three new schools to satisfy demand

The Diocese of East Anglia has announced its intention to submit bids to open three new voluntary-aided Catholic primary schools in areas of Cambridgeshire with increasing populations – and is now asking for people to support the bids.

The three bids are in areas of significant housing development – Northstowe, Hampton East (Peterborough) and Great Haddon (Peterborough).

Under a new bidding round, bids have to be submitted to the Department for Education by 1st February, 2019, and it is expected that the schools would open around September 2022 or 2023, depending on how quickly the new houses are occupied.

Helen Bates, Assistant Director for Schools, said: “This bidding round represents the first opportunity to build new Catholic schools in East Anglia for many years.

“Our diocese has some of the most severe shortages of Catholic school places in the country and, while there are many parts of East Anglia where we would like new schools, they have to be in areas where there is also a general shortage of places.

“We have worked closely with both Cambridgeshire County Council and Peterborough City Council, to identify these three areas where we all want more school places.

“The Government has been very clear that only a small number of bids will be approved, so we don’t expect to get all three, but we think we do have three very strong bids.

“However, we need to show that there is widespread support for our bids by the time we submit them on 1st February, so we need people to register their support and interest.”

People can express their support by going to the Diocesan website at by following us on Twitter @RCNewSchools and on Facebook at RCDEANewSchools.

The three new bids will be for voluntary-aided (VA) schools, where there is no cap on faith admissions. VA schools are state-funded. Decisions on bids are expected from the Government by the end of March 2019.

In a separate move, the Diocese of East Anglia opened a consultation on Monday, 7th January to open a new Catholic primary school in Swaffham on the site of the current Sacred Heart School. The consultation will run until 15th February.

Ms Bates said: “The possibility of opening a non-fee paying Catholic primary school in Swaffham is a very rare opportunity. We have not opened any new Catholic schools in Norfolk in decades. If successful, this new school will build on the long tradition of excellent education and community service at Sacred Heart School.

“We need to hear from as many people as possible during this consultation to understand if there is widespread support for the new primary school.”

There is a consultation document that provides more details at

There are also drop-in sessions and an open day being held at Sacred Heart School where diocesan officers will be available to answer questions and provide further information.

Picture: East Anglia Schools Mass and picnic at St John’s Cathedral in Norwich.