Mount St Mary’s Catholic High School in Richmond Hill has been named as just one of 50 schools nationally to receive a share of funding worth billions from the Department for Education.
The Secretary of State for Education, Gavin Williamson, announced the DfE money as part of the £14.4 billion increase in schools funding the Government launched in 2019, a share of which will provide net zero carbon, energy-efficient new facilities and purpose built classrooms for Mount St Mary’s, one of the oldest schools in Leeds.
Mount St Mary’s serves an area which includes seven post codes within the country’s 10% most nationally deprived areas and accounting for 75% of their school cohort. The 940 pupils hail from 44 nationalities speaking 46 languages.
Welcoming the news as a boost towards the 2023 celebrations of 170 years of Mount St Mary’s providing education in the centre of Leeds, Head Teacher Mark Cooper said: ‘This announcement and the associated funding, could not have come at a more appropriate time. The students and staff here continue to aspire to excellence, the further enhancement of the buildings provision will only serve to support our aspirations. We serve some fantastic communities and challenge every student to make an impact and bring about positive change in all that they do.’
Mount St Mary’s stands high on Richmond Hill, overlooking the area of regeneration in the city along the banks of the River Aire. The school began as a convent and orphanage in 1853. By the end of the 1860s, the Sisters of the Immaculate Conception were providing education for 650 of Leeds’ poorest children in what was a desperately deprived area. The original convent buildings still stand at the heart of the site, although over the decades, the school has continually developed to meet both successive changes in education and the needs of the local Catholic community.
The Rt Rev Marcus Stock is Bishop of Leeds and Chair of the Catholic Education Service. The Bishop said, ‘Education is central to the life and mission of the Catholic Church. As we address the social and economic challenges of the day, this ongoing investment provides vital support for the commitment and energy that exists in our Catholic schools.’
Clare Skinner, Chair of Governors said, ‘The school has fantastic pupils, and staff committed to the local community. To receive funding to allow us to serve our children in state of the art buildings is something they deserve and an exciting opportunity for the school.’