School ready for split sites

Tony McAteer, prospective head of Holy Cross Primary School, with Jayne Rutherford, Foundation Stage Leader, Robin Cristian, Deputy Headteacher and, far right,  Beverly Briggs, Business Manager

Tony McAteer, prospective head of Holy Cross Primary School, with Jayne Rutherford, Foundation Stage Leader, Robin Cristian, Deputy Headteacher and, far right, Beverly Briggs, Business Manager

First published in News Swindon Advertiser: Photograph of the Author by , @BerenCross

HEADTEACHER Tony McAteer is confident he and Clifton Diocese will manage the “difficult situation” when Holy Cross Primary School opens across two sites in September 2015.

Swindon Council finally granted Clifton Diocese and Holy Rood Catholic Junior School planning permission for the new school last month, after plans were initially submitted in April 2013.

Development will now go ahead on the playing fields at St Joseph’s Catholic College, with contractors set to move on-site in the next seven to 10 days.

Holy Rood, based in Upham Road, was confirmed as the diocese’s new partner in running the school in September last year.

Mr McAteer is the current headteacher at Holy Rood and since it was confirmed his school would partner the new project, he has been involved in numerous meetings on which and how many pupils will move onto the new site.

A new reception class of 30 pupils will immediately move into a tailored extension on the Upham Road site next month.

But one year later, that group, as well as a new reception tranche, will be the only pupils to move onto the new site, which is designed to accommodate seven full year groups.

“Logistically it will be quite a difficult situation to manage,” said Mr McAteer. “The diocese has put measures in place to make that easier for us.

“In terms of a final outcome next September, we feel the need to continue to consult.

“Ultimately, whatever decision is arrived at should be for the benefit of the children.”

Clifton Diocese has installed Peter Bradshaw, an ex-director at the diocese, as the man to oversee the two-site arrangement.

Mr McAteer said Mr Bradshaw had experience of shared sites and he would host a number of meetings between Holy Cross and Holy Rood to ensure the process is a smooth one.

Consultation with parents on which pupils will transfer is ongoing, with talks still planned for the coming year.

Among the reasons given for parents wishing for their children (those currently aged seven to 10) to stay at Upham Road were the fact they themselves had been taught there.

Also, personal convenience, with children potentially being taught across three sites at the infant school in Groundwell Road, Upham Road and the new site at St Joseph’s, it would prove more difficult for drop-off and pick-up times.

Meanwhile, Jayne Rutherford, the newly-appointed foundation stage leader at Holy Cross, has been working over the summer to put the finishing touches to the space for reception pupils.

Mr McAteer added: “Jayne has been working very hard to get the new classroom space ready for the new term.”

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