Pupils and staff at a Derby primary school destroyed in an arson attack are one step closer to moving into a new building.
Work to transform St James’s House, off Mansfield Road, into a temporary home for St Mary’s Catholic Voluntary Academy is continuing after planning permission was granted by Derby City Council.
St Mary’s, which is part of the St Ralph Sherwin Catholic Multi Academy Trust, was destroyed by a fire on Saturday, 3rd October. Since then pupils and staff have been based across two sites, with Years 3-6 at Saint Benedict Catholic Voluntary Academy in Duffield Road, Derby, while the school’s nursery, reception and Years 1 and 2 are based at the Diocesan Centre in Mornington Crescent, Mackworth, and the neighbouring Christ the King Catholic Church.
No firm date has been set yet for the move into St James’s House, which currently houses office space, but the St Ralph Sherwin Trust is optimistic that this could take place in the term after the Easter holidays.
Plans for a new building on the school’s Broadway site are also moving forward.
More good news for St Mary’s has come in the increased number of applications the school has received for pupils entering reception in September 2021, compared to last year.
Amanda Greaves, executive head at St Mary’s, said: “We are absolutely delighted the local authority has granted us permission to use St James’ House as our temporary base until the new St Mary’s is re-built.
“Since the fire, it has been our vision for the school community to be re-united in a substantial building; giving our staff, pupils and families a sense of permanence and stability at this difficult time and I am so very grateful to the Trust and local authority in supporting this vision.
“I would like to take this opportunity to thank our existing parents and carers for continuing to support us through this time, it has not been easy for families and this is testament to the strength within the community; the St Mary’s spirit is truly alive and stronger than ever.
“I remain utterly overwhelmed by the number of new families hoping to join St Mary’s in September, this number appears to be growing and we cannot wait to welcome our new pupils and their families into the St Mary’s family.”
Gill Novak-Lemmings, head of school at St Mary’s, said: “When I heard the news come through, I breathed such a huge sigh of relief. The thought of all being reunited again is just the best feeling ever.
“Being based at two sites has brought its own challenges; being separated from colleagues and children has been difficult at times but knowing this will all be over soon is the most uplifting feeling one could have.
“I can’t thank Christ the King Church, the Diocesan Centre and Saint Benedict enough for accommodating us since November, but now that the move into St James’s has been granted, the thought of being together again is just incredible.
“Then, to top this, knowing we have such a large amount of families wanting to send their children to join reception in September is incredible; a true reflection of the fact we are still the number one school in Derbyshire.”
Sean McClafferty, chief executive of the St Ralph Sherwin Trust, said: “We are absolutely delighted to announce that planning permission has now been granted and work will continue to prepare the building for St Mary’s staff and pupils. As yet, we cannot provide a definitive date for moving in but, of course, will be doing everything we can to ensure this is as soon as possible.
“In the meantime, we would like to thank everyone for their unending support for the staff, the school, and the Trust and for being pivotal in helping St Mary’s to continue being such a wonderful community.”