Church and community together win new primary school for Watford.
The Department for Education approved the proposal for St John’s Church of England Primary School, Watford, to move to the pre-opening phase on 30 September 2014. It will provide 420 much-needed primary school places in September 2016.
For over a year, the rigorous application process has assessed St John’s Church’s proposal, made in partnership with the Diocese of St Albans. The Diocese is prepared to support applications for free schools in areas where there is a high demand for places and where there is support from the local authority.
(Photo: Left-right Fr David Stevenson, Jon Reynolds, Robert Fox, Richard Harrington MP & Mayor Dorothy Thornhill)
The new school will welcome children from all faiths or no faith, providing them with a learning environment which will cross subject boundaries to engage children in learning. The school will place itself at the centre of the community and will run community events to contribute to the children’s learning and help create social capital in the Watford community.
Father David, Vicar of St John’s Church said:
“I celebrate the way that the community has got behind our proposal and expressed the need for this school. I celebrate how our partner has supported our application and how our combined efforts have resulted in approval to proceed with our School. We desperately need more school places in Watford and I am so pleased that the Church is able to serve the community in this way. I am very thankful to all the parents and volunteers who have supported us so far on our journey. We can be very proud of what we have achieved. We accept that we need to allow enough time to find the best possible site and building for our new school and this will mean opening in September 2016. I know this will be disappointing to many, but it is sadly unavoidable. This is a really exciting time for us – the Church of England has always strived to provide excellent education for all members of the community, and we see St John’s as being the latest addition to our family of church schools and once we are able to take applications, will welcome them from all members of the community.”
Vix Moore a local parent:
“I’m so excited about this great news for our community. This year’s shortage of primary school places is a real worry, I know of two families that weren’t allocated a place at any of the schools they applied to for this year. The opening of this new school will help to make sure that all our children can find a school place.”
The approval of John’s Church of England Primary School is part of a wider trend. Recent research by the New Schools Network, which explored what parents value in a good school and how they think their own school measures up, showed that 77 per cent of parents in the East of England would welcome the chance to have a free school in their area and the same number said they would consider sending their child to a free school if one opened locally.
The Bishop of Bedford, Chair of the Diocese of St Albans Board of Education, said:
“This much-needed school results from the church responding to the local community’s needs and is a really first-class example of what can be achieved in a very short time when people work together. It will offer a quality education to a broad range of people in the community irrespective of faith, continuing the enduring commitment of the Church of England to serving communities in this way.”
Natalie Evans, Director of New Schools Network, said:
“The application process to set up a free school is incredibly rigorous – as it should be – so it is a testament to St John’s Church of England Primary School’s hard work that they have been approved. We know this new school will be a great addition to Watford. There are now over 360 free schools open or approved around the country and they are proving popular with parents and adding good new schools places to their local communities.”
Interested parents can find out more at http://www.saintjohnswatfordschool.org.uk