New Christian secondary school for 600 pupils could be built in Soham - but county council bosses aren't in favour

PUBLISHED: 17:40 30 September 2019 | UPDATED: 10:54 01 October 2019

A new Christian secondary school for 600 students could be built in Soham. Proposals have been put forward by St Bede’s Inter-Church School, in Cambridge. Picture: GOOGLE EARTH

A new Christian secondary school for 600 students could be built in Soham. Proposals have been put forward by St Bede's Inter-Church School, in Cambridge. Picture: GOOGLE EARTH

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A new Christian secondary school for 600 students could be built in Soham - despite the county council opposing it in favour of "expanding existing schools".

The new site for 11 to 16 year olds would be built between the town and the A142 bypass on the Eastern Gateway and open by September 2021.

The proposal comes from St Bede's Inter-Church School, in Cambridge, in a bid to secure more secondary places in East Cambridgeshire.

However, at a Cambridgeshire County Council children and young people committee meeting in March, officers said that they "do not believe" the district was of "a sufficient scale to justify a further new secondary school, in addition to the one recently opened in Littleport".

They questioned the value for money, sustainability and the need for more places - which they claimed could be expanded in existing schools.

It was also feared that it could be a "detriment" to existing schools.

"The council's clear preference is to continue to work in partnership with our existing schools and academy trusts on small scale expansions when and where the pupil population justifies it," the report added.

An application for the school was originally approved by the Department for Education (DofE) in 2017, when it was planned for the school to be based in Waterbeach.

But due to the change in location, education chiefs at St Bede's have now launched a survey to get a picture of parental demand.

Half of the school places offered would be on the basis of faith.

Alistair Day, headteacher of St Bede's Inter-Church School, said: "The school will only proceed if we can demonstrate parental interest in and demand for school places based on faith preference and even then, there are many steps before it could possibly open.

"This survey is an essential part of a wider feasibility study for the proposed secondary school."

The new school is supported by Catholic Diocese of East Anglia and the Church of England Diocese of Ely.

The survey is aimed at families in East Cambridgeshire and West Suffolk who may be interested in a faith-based education and have children of the appropriate age.

It can be accessed from today (Monday September 30) until midnight on Friday November 22.

St Bede's is liaising with both Dioceses to inform parents of the survey via local churches and is also asking local primary schools to notify their parents.

It is currently the only Christian state secondary school in Cambridgeshire, which has around 750 pupils and 50 staff.

In their latest Ofsted report from 2016, they were ranked as outstanding in every area.

Headteachers at nearby secondary schools that might be affected by a new school were advised of the survey for the new school in mid-September.

They were also advised to work with their MPs if they oppose any of the plans.

The survey can be accessed by visiting https://forms.office.com/Pages/ResponsePage.aspx?id=viaRQ8T5xkqNIezB4SQpJi1rXycBnXhKs783IcrToZ9UM0kzUklKVUhTNEE5RkxQTzdETFBINUxPVC4u

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