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Updated 17th March 2021
Here are some answers to frequently asked questions about St John Henry Newman Catholic Primary School. We will keep adding to this as different questions are asked.
Newer FAQs can be found towards the end of this document.
Is the school still set to open?
Yes, the school is still set to open in September 2022. A lot of work has been going on in the background on what the school building and site will look like to allow a planning application to be submitted by the end of January. More details about the application can be found at https://dppukltd.com/st-johnhenrynewman/
This application is being made by Peterborough City Council who are leading on the building of the school, not the Diocese. However, the Diocese has been fully involved in the all the discussions about building the school.
Opening a new school is not just about the building. There are lots of things to consider, like admissions to the school, appointment of staff and governors, term dates and school uniform. The Diocese has set up a website and email address for the new school where all information about the school will be posted as it becomes available. This website can be found at https://st-johnhenrynewman.org.uk/
Will my child be able to get into the new school?
We know that this is the biggest concern for parents, especially those living close to the new school. Even though this is a Catholic school, we still expect that every child who wants a place at the school where St John Henry Newman School is their closest school, will be able to get a place. The plan at the moment is to open with a 26 place nursery, a class of 30 in Reception Year and a mixed class of 30 across Year 1 and 2. However, if Peterborough City Council tell us we need more classes than that to make sure that all local children have a local school place, then we will open more classes for September 2022, up to a maximum of three classes in each year group. We do have to be careful though that we don’t create too many places too early so that children already in existing schools move to the new school, as this can cause problems for those existing schools if too many pupils leave.
We have heard people saying that Catholic children living many miles from the new school will get into St John Henry Newman before non-Catholic children who live very close to the school. This is not the case. First of all, whether a child is Catholic or not only matters if there are more children wanting a place at the school than there are places available. If this isn’t the case, then all children who want a place will get in whether they are Catholic or not. This is what we expect to happen. If there are more children who want a place than places available, we will look to open another class as long as this doesn’t take children away from existing schools with places available. If after doing this, there are still more children than places, we will allocate 20% of places to non-Catholic children who live closest to the school. Catholic children will also be prioritised according to who lives the nearest. We expect the vast majority of Catholic children at the school will also be local children.
We are working very closely with Peterborough City Council, who will be managing the admissions process for this school, to make sure that local children who need a place at St John Henry Newman can get it. This includes monitoring the numbers of children moving into Hampton Waters so we can get the right number of classes open in September 2022.
When can I apply for a place at St John Henry Newman?
The admissions process for this school will follow the same timetable as for all primary schools and you can find more information about this on Peterborough City Council’s website at https://www.peterborough.gov.uk/residents/schools-and-education/school-admissions In the Summer Term 2021, your local education authority’s Admissions Team (Peterborough City Council for those living in Peterborough) will alert schools to information that will be available on the above website and through primary schools, about how to apply for a school place if your child is due to start school for the first time (ie, into Reception Year) in September 2022. Applications will open on 10th September 2021.
If you want a place in Year 1 or 2 at St John Henry Newman you will also need to contact your local education authority’s Admissions Team during the Summer Term 2022 and make an application through the “In Year Admission” process (details on the website).
If you want a place in the nursery you will need to contact the school directly. We don’t have a telephone number for the new school yet, but you can email at firstname.lastname@example.org in the Autumn Term 2021.
Please be aware that getting a place at St John Henry Newman does not depend on how long ago you asked for a place and being in the school’s nursery does not give your child a higher priority for a place in Reception Year.
We intend to hold some open days/evenings during the Autumn Term where you can meet people involved with running St John Henry Newman School and talk to them about the admissions process and the new school. Applications for admission to Reception Year at St John Henry Newman will open on 10th September 2021 and will need to be made by 15th January 2022. You will know if your child has a place on 18th April 2022 by email if you applied online, or by post if you submitted a paper application.
Isn’t this school going to increase traffic on the A15 and around Hampton Waters?
We don’t think this school will cause any more traffic than any other primary school of this size. Some parents will drive their children to school whatever distance they live from the school, and there are lots of different reasons for this. What we don’t think will happen is lots of children being driven to the school from a very long way. One reason is because distance from the school will be a factor in deciding who gets a place if the school is over-subscribed. More importantly though, most parents of primary-aged children, whether they’re Catholic or not, don’t want their children to travel a long way to school. Our last analysis of children in our other Peterborough Catholic primary schools showed than 89% of children at Sacred Heart and 92% of children at St Thomas More schools lived less than 2 miles away and most of these lived less than a mile away.
Parents parking outside school at drop-off and pick-up times is an issue at all schools. With this in mind, the design of the new school allows for a parent drop-off area on the school site and off the road. Whilst the school can’t stop parents parking on the road, we do think it will help the situation greatly.
What will the curriculum be like at this school? Will it be all about religion?
Catholic schools have to teach the National Curriculum just like non-Catholic schools. Religious Education is an important part of the curriculum in Catholic schools and accounts for around 10% of the timetable. However, it is not just another subject but a key component that holds all elements of the school together through the values of tolerance, respect and equality, to name but a few. These values are developed through an understanding of and respect for people of other faiths or none and other religions, cultures and lifestyles. As well as learning about the Catholic faith, children are equipped with the ability to adopt positive values, understand their own beliefs and their place in a culturally diverse society.
Parents can ask for their children to be removed from RE lessons and prayers, but in reality very few do.
Why can’t you guarantee a child a place?
No school can guarantee in advance a school place, whether or not it is a Catholic school. This is because we can’t predict how many children will be living in an area at a particular time, and what school parents might want for their child. This only becomes clearer once parents have applied for a school place and even then numbers can change as children move into and out of an area. We use Peterborough City Council’s forecast figures to help in planning how many places we think will be needed, but this can only ever be a calculated guess.
Are you building a chapel on the school site?
No, we are not building a chapel. However, the small hall area of the new school building will sometimes be used as a chapel for the school and the local community. The Diocese will be funding any specialist equipment or furniture needed for the area to work as a chapel.
Is the Diocese putting any money into the building or running of the new school?
The Diocese has committed £250,000 of funding towards anything in the new school building which is outside the strict specification of the Department for Education (DfE). As we’ve said above, this will include for things to do with a chapel as well as a crucifix on the outside wall of the school. However, it could also be for things that are not to do with the Catholic nature of the school, for example, if we want more power points than allowed for in the DfE’s specification, or different furniture. This funding will also be used for fees for example, for an ICT consultant who is advising us, and any legal fees.
This school is like any other state-maintained school in terms of how it is funded on a day-to-day basis. This funding comes from the Local Authority, Peterborough City Council, and is calculated mainly on the basis of the number of children at the school.