Popularity of north Derbyshire’s most oversubscribed primary school comes as 'no surprise' to headteacher

The headteacher of north Derbyshire’s most oversubscribed primary school says it is ‘no surprise’ it proved so popular due to it’s great links with the community and the local Parish.

Wednesday, 28th April 2021, 10:11 pm
Updated Friday, 30th April 2021, 10:51 am

St Mary’s Catholic Primary School, on Cross Street, had to turn away 26 children whose parents applied by the deadline for one of the 60 places it had for the upcoming 2021/22 academic year.

It was the second most oversubscribed primary school in Derbyshire and just one of four which were oversubscribed by more than 20 places, according to new figures published by Derbyshire County Council.

Headteacher Nicola Brown said: “I am extremely proud of St Mary’s and it is a joy to be the headteacher of such a well-respected school. St Mary’s does have a high profile in the local community and has very close links with our Parish, so it is no surprise that we are one of the most oversubscribed schools in Derbyshire.

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Year 3 children reading in the library at St Mary's School in Chesterfield, the most oversubscribed primary school in north Derbyshire for the 2021/22 academic year

"The school is over 150 years old, and many generations of families have succeeded here. It is wonderful to see new generations coming through our doors year on year.”

Asked why she thinks the school has proved so popular, Ms Brown said: “Being a Catholic school, children at St Mary’s develop a strong moral compass: they learn to respect one another and this leads to the fact that we have outstanding behaviour. Our children are a delight – they love coming to school and they love learning.

“Our staff work really hard to make lessons engaging and memorable for the children. There is always something exciting going on! This means that they leave here with a good set of skills and a love of learning, ready to take on to the next stage in their journey.”

A Year 5 lesson at St Mary's School in Chesterfield, the most oversubscribed primary school in north Derbyshire for the 2021/22 academic year.

Ms Brown said it is “upsetting” that St Mary’s can’t welcome all applicants but, due to its popularity, the school has undertaken a feasibility study with the Diocese to look at expanding.

This concluded that an expansion is not currently possible, although plans have not been ruled out for the future.

“We would love to be able to offer everyone a place,” Ms Brown added. "Everyone at our school knows our motto, ‘Let Your Light Shine’ and that is really what St Mary’s is all about.”

Foundation class with Miss Harrison at St Mary's School in Chesterfield, the most oversubscribed primary school in north Derbyshire for the 2021/22 academic year

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St Mary's School in Chesterfield is the most oversubscribed primary school in north Derbyshire for the 2021/22 academic year. Pictured is headteacher Nicola Brown.