PARENTS who wish to send their children to a new Catholic primary school in Swindon town centre in September can now apply to do so, following an announcement by the Government.

It was not possible to offer parents the opportunity to apply for the new Holy Cross Primary School in the recent Primary school places application process, which ended in January, because the school had not been given the go-ahead by the Education Funding Agency.

The agency has now informed the council that it has approved the school, which means that parents who have already applied for school places, and who wish to nominate the new school as one of their three preferred choices, will need to reapply.

Holy Cross will help to address an urgent shortage of Primary school places in the town centre, and will eventually be housed in a new building in the grounds of St Joseph’s Catholic College.

The new school building will not be complete by September, so in the meantime the thirty places on offer will be accommodated in a new purpose-built classroom at Holy Rood Junior School. It will be run as an Academy, as required by Government rules for new schools, by the Clifton Diocese.

The originally-agreed plan for St Joseph’s Catholic College to run the new school was unable to go ahead following Ofsted’s decision to place St Joseph’s into special measures last September.

Following this, the Clifton Diocese proposed an alternative solution to expand and relocate Holy Rood Junior School onto the St Joseph’s site and rename it Holy Cross. It is this proposal that the Education Funding Agency has now approved.

Councillor Fionuala Foley, Swindon Borough Council Cabinet member for Children’s Services, said: “I am pleased and relieved we can offer parents these much-needed new places in time for the new September term.

“We will be contacting all those parents who expressed an interest to us in the new school to let them know they can now apply, as can any other parents in the Borough.”

The council first consulted on the site for a new town centre school just over two years ago. Although the St Joseph’s option was not one of the original three proposals, it emerged as the front-runner following the consultation.  

Applications from parents for Holy Cross for September 2014 should be submitted to the council’s admissions team by 12 noon on Friday 21st March 2014. A Catholic supplementary form, available from the school or the council, will also need to be submitted to Holy Rood Junior School. 

Letters and e-mails informing parents of the places offered to their children will go out on Wednesday 16th April.