Parents in move for new school

PUBLISHED: 12:18 15 March 2007 | UPDATED: 15:03 12 May 2010

Melbourn Bury, which may be the site of a new Roman Catholic secondary school

Melbourn Bury, which may be the site of a new Roman Catholic secondary school

A NEW independent Roman Catholic secondary school could be opening in Melbourn in September – provided there is sufficient interest from parents. The school, St Etheldreda s College, which would be based at Melbourn Bury, would have a maximum of 400 pupil

Margaret Shinkwin: “Students and parents will benefit.”

A NEW independent Roman Catholic secondary school could be opening in Melbourn in September - provided there is sufficient interest from parents.

The school, St Etheldreda's College, which would be based at Melbourn Bury, would have a maximum of 400 pupils aged 11-18-years-old and would also cater for non-Catholics who support the Christian ethos. It will cost about £5,000-6,000-a-year.

The school would initially open with Years 7-9 and expand in the future with the possibility of building on the site.

The idea has been proposed by a group of parents with the help of an experienced headteacher who want to provide parents with low-cost education which is accessible to more people.

They have chosen to open the school in Melbourn because they believe that there will be a growing demand for Catholic secondary education in the area over the next 10 years.

Headteacher Margaret Shinkwin, who has 27 years teaching experience, is overseeing the project in an advisory role.

She said: "We looked at the biggest growth area and NHS projection for population growth over the next decade and for this age group there will be a demand in this area.

"We also looked for a place that would give us access to trains."

The school has already had the blessing of the Bishop of East Anglia, but the Diocese of East Anglia has no funding available for the project.

However, Mrs Shinkwin said people had come forward and were prepared to support the project if pupil numbers were sufficient.

She added: "I am really hopeful that we can get the school up and running.

"Not only do we have a number of parents involved, we also have staff and governors lined up who have been inspired by the project.

"So in theory we could start in a month's time."

The group's next step is to find out if there is a real need for a new school in the area.

So far, they have had more than 150 responses, but they want to hear from more parents whose children will be starting in Year7 in September.

Mrs Shinkwin said: "The question now rests on the viable number of students and money.

"But I am sure the money will be sorted once we have the students."

Mrs Shinkwin believes there is a great need for a secondary Catholic school in the area, because pupils currently have to travel to Stevenage or Cambridge.

She said: "I really believe that many students and parents will benefit from such a project - this is a fantastic opportunity.

"There will be two classes for each of the five years, so pupils will also benefit from small class sizes, and will be able to build trusting relationships with teachers.

"We are Looking at viability studies and predictions - research which supports the theory that there is a need and that it can be sustained.

"The decision will come down to the governors, but I would love to set the school on the right path."

Mrs Shinkwin, who has four years' headship experience added: "I do know what's required in teaching which is our main priority and I'm confident there's nothing to stop us. We will be seeing the LEA straight away

"It has been encouraging to see so many parents interested."

Tony Carroll, headteacher of St Mary's Catholic School in Royston, said: "I'm a bit surprised that no one has contacted us on any level.

"We are part of the feeder system for John Henry Newman in Stevenage.

"John Henry Newman is a superb Catholic school, and free of charge."

- About 50 years ago there was a proposal that Melbourn Village College should be located at Melbourn Bury.


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