The Roman Catholic Archbishop of Westminster, Cardinal Vincent Nichols, officially opens and blesses the new St Joseph’s Catholic Primary School in Bishop’s Stortford
The Archbishop of Westminster, Cardinal Vincent Nichols, blessed the new St Joseph’s Catholic Primary School during the official inauguration of his state-of-the-art building in Bishop’s Stortford.
The Cardinal – who is also President of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales and therefore de facto spokesperson for the Catholic Church in England – was joined by Director Peter Coldwell and Chair of Governors Suzanne Fitzgerald as he unveiled a commemorative plaque.
The 76-year-old dignitary – who was appointed 11th Archbishop of Westminster by Pope Benedict XVI in 2009 – presided over a short service of prayer and reflection in the schoolyard, attended by pupils, staff and representatives of those who were instrumental in delivering the project.
Bishop Nichols was given a guided tour of the new Great Hadham Road campus before enjoying refreshments.
Vice-Chairman of Governors Kieran McAuliffe said: “The school building was designed with children at its heart and is a triumph for everyone involved and has received the stamp of approval from children, parents and staff.
“The new building will ensure that current and future students will continue to live, love and learn in a caring Christian community.”
The two-story replacement school for 420 students was built adjacent to existing buildings on the 4.45-acre (1.8-hectare) campus.
Work began in early 2020 and was completed ahead of schedule. So, in January 2021, the old classrooms were demolished, heralding a new era for the school.
The project to increase St Joseph’s capacity from a school of 1.5 to 2 forms of entry – increasing from 45 to 60 pupils each year, adding 105 places over the seven years – was funded by a construction program of priority schools Phase 2 (PSBP2) grant from the Ministry of Education which finances “major projects for the reconstruction and renovation of schools and high schools in the worst conditions”. Hertfordshire County Council education authority has approved investment funds of up to £1.48million.
St Joseph’s was founded by the Belgian religious order of the Sisters of Saint Mary of Namur as a mixed school for primary school pupils in 1909 in what is now the music block of St Mary’s Catholic School in Windhill , which the nuns also founded.
Great Hadham Road School was built in 1960, initially with three classrooms, then expanded to six in 1966 and further growth over the decades until the primary had a capacity of over 300 pupils.
Its new facilities include two classrooms per year, a food technology room, sensory equipment and the latest digital teaching equipment such as interactive screens and sound systems.