First new Catholic primary school to open in decades marks eventful first year

Bishop of East Anglia Alan Hopes blessing the new Sacred Heart Catholic Primary and Nursery School i

Bishop of East Anglia Alan Hopes blessing the new Sacred Heart Catholic Primary and Nursery School in Swaffham. Picture: Sacred Heart Catholic Primary School - Credit: Sacred Heart Catholic Primary an

A new Catholic primary school – the first to open in Norfolk for decades – is marking the completion of its first year in what has proved to be an eventful 12 months.

The opening of the new Sacred Heart Voluntary Aided Primary School, and Little Pedlars Nursery, marked a new dawn for children and families in Swaffham and surrounding areas.

After receiving the backing of 90pc of local people in a public consultation, the school, funded by the government and supported by the Catholic Diocese of East Anglia, opened its doors to its first pupils in September.

MORE: ‘Benefits far outweigh risks’ - Parents welcome return of all pupils to primary schoolBeginning life in the grounds of the previous Sacred Heart School, a fee-paying school which closed last summer after failing to raise enough funding to continue, the new primary has 82 pupils with hopes to expand further.

Executive headteacher Aidan McGovern said the school was able to take over facilities that “many primary schools would be envious of”.

He said: “We have a dedicated computer room, a science lab, a home economics room, a library, a gymnasium and a huge sports barn with additional tennis courts, as well as a large field and outdoor learning areas.

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“We are a growing school with dedicated staff and offer classes from reception through to year six with places available in each year group. We have capacity to be a one-form entry primary school of 210 children.”

However as with all schools, Sacred Heart has been affected by coronavirus, making its first year more eventful than planned.

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“Our staff have been on hand to support the children as they continue their learning, both at home and, for those able to attend, at school,” said Mr McGovern.

“During lockdown the children were very keen to do some art and decided to make an underwater sea display to brighten up the gym and assembly hall, hoping it will cheer everyone up when all pupils return to school.

“Year six voted to explore how rockets are made, and they designed and made their own.”

MORE: Banker turned PE teacher takes over as school’s new headFounded in 1914, the previous Sacred Heart was run by a religious group known as the Daughters of Divine Charity.

Its closure would have meant the nearest alternative Catholic schools were in King’s Lynn and Costessey, which many parents in the consultation for the new school felt was too far for primary-aged children to travel.

Mr McGovern said: “The Catholic nature of our school means that we are universal in our approach to those who attend the school.

“The fundamental Christian values and ethos permeate the way in which we deliver the curriculum and support our families in their children’s learning journey and their faith. We have fun, enjoy our learning and are excited about the future.”

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