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Norfolk school which starred in documentary to close – but new school could open in its place

PUBLISHED: 14:28 07 January 2019 | UPDATED: 17:31 07 January 2019

The participants of Channel 5 show Bad Habits, Holy Orders return at the Sacred Heart Convent in Swaffham. The school is set to close at the end of the academic year - but a new Catholic school could open in its place. Picture: Archant

The participants of Channel 5 show Bad Habits, Holy Orders return at the Sacred Heart Convent in Swaffham. The school is set to close at the end of the academic year - but a new Catholic school could open in its place. Picture: Archant

A school which starred in a television series is set to close this year despite a plea to the public to help save it.

Pupils at Sacred Heart School in Swaffham. Picture: Sacred Heart SchoolPupils at Sacred Heart School in Swaffham. Picture: Sacred Heart School

Sacred Heart School in Swaffham will close at the end of the academic year in July after failing to raise enough funding to keep it open.

But a new Catholic primary school – the first in Norfolk for decades – could open in its place, with a consultation underway to gather views from parents, staff and the local community.

The Catholic Diocese of East Anglia has launched the consultation on a potential new school on the site of Sacred Heart, a fee-paying school which has 162 pupils across is nursery, lower and senior schools.

The process would see the pupils in primary year groups at Sacred Heart move over to the new school.

Helen Bates, assistant director of schools at the Catholic Diocese of East Anglia. Picture: Keith MorrisHelen Bates, assistant director of schools at the Catholic Diocese of East Anglia. Picture: Keith Morris

Helen Bates, diocesan assistant director for schools, said: “The possibility of opening a non-fee paying Catholic primary school in Swaffham is extremely exciting and a very rare opportunity.

“We have not opened any new Catholic schools in Norfolk in decades. The nearest Catholic schools to Swaffham are in King’s Lynn and Costessey in Norwich, which many parents feel is too far for primary-aged children to travel.

“If successful, this new school will build on the long tradition of excellent education and community service at Sacred Heart School.

“We need to hear from as many people as possible during this consultation to understand if there is widespread support for the new primary school.”

Sisters from Sacred Heart School in Swaffham. Picture: Sacred Heart SchoolSisters from Sacred Heart School in Swaffham. Picture: Sacred Heart School

The online consultation will run until Friday, February 15 and can be found at www.rcdea.org.uk/sacredheartva.

There will also be drop-in sessions held at Sacred Heart School, where diocesan officers will be available to answer questions and provide further information. These will be held on Thursday January 17 from 3.30pm to 5pm and on Wednesday February 6 from 6.30pm to 8pm.

Sacred Heart School is also holding an open day on Saturday February 9 from 10am to 12pm.

Founded in 1914, Sacred Heart is run by a religious group known as the Daughters of Divine Charity.

It starred in the Channel 5 series Bad Habits, Holy Orders in 2017, which saw five party girls spend a month with the school’s sisters.

The final decision on whether to open the new Catholic primary school will be made by Norfolk County Council and is expected by the end of April 2019.

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