£100,000 appeal for new equipment as St Joseph's Catholic Primary pupils settle into their new school
Students and staff at St Joseph's Catholic Primary School are trying to raise £100,000 to equip their brand new building.
The pupils and teachers had hoped to begin enjoying the upgraded facilities in Great Hadham Road, Bishop's Stortford, in January, but the Covid-19 crisis meant only the children of key workers and vulnerable youngsters could use the new classrooms until lessons for all resumed in March.
The two-storey replacement school for 420 pupils was constructed alongside the existing buildings on the 4.45-acre (1.8-hectare) campus.
Work began at the start of 2020 and was completed ahead of schedule, so in January the old classrooms were demolished, heralding a new era for the school.
The project to increase St Joseph's capacity from a 1.5- to two-form-of-entry school – adding 105 places across the seven year groups, up from 45 to 60 pupils in each – was funded by a Priority School Building Programme Phase 2 (PSBP2) grant from the Department for Education (DfE) which finances "major rebuilding and refurbishment projects in those schools and sixth-form colleges in the very worst condition". Education authority Hertfordshire County Council approved capital funds of up to £1.48m.
Chair of governors Suzanne Fitzgerald said: "The children are all happily back at St Joseph's in their new school building. The facilities and space are so much better than the old building. The demolition is complete and the landscaping is starting. It will all look lovely by July, we hope."
But there is still hard work ahead: "The funding we've been given to build this new school doesn't provide for some of the extra equipment that we need. Some of this is due to the increased size of school and number of classrooms and some is because the old equipment, such as outdoor play equipment, couldn't be moved safely.
"The governors and school association have started fundraising to try to raise £100,000. This is very difficult in present times."
The coronavirus pandemic prevented plans for a farewell party to enable former pupils to say goodbye to the old school. Instead, alumnae have joined a Facebook group, set up by governor Andy Faulkner and old girl Suzie Carpenter, to share their memories.
St Joseph's was founded by Belgian religious order the Sisters of St Mary of Namur as a mixed school for elementary pupils in 1909 in what is now the music block at St Mary's Catholic School in Windhill, which the nuns also founded.
The school in Great Hadham Road was built in 1960, initially with three classrooms, with expansion to six in 1966 and then further growth through the decades until the primary had capacity for more than 300 pupils.
Click here to donate to St Joseph's equipment fund.