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A CATHOLIC primary is set to become the first school to switch denominations in order to stay open.

Sacred Heart RC Primary School, in Lynwood Road, Blackburn, will now come under the direction of the Cidari Trust, which is run by the Diocese of Black-burn, from September.

Talks between the Dioceses of Blackburn and Salf-ord are believed to have lasted almost six months.

Parents of pupils at the school have received a letter from the governors inf-orming them of the news.

A spokesman for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Salford said it was thought it was the first time such a change in status, from one denomination to the other, had taken place.

He said the decision had been taken because falling numbers of Catholic pupils on the roll meant the school, which currently has 189 pupils, was ‘no longer fulfilling its responsibility’ to its ‘Trust Deed’ as a Roman Catholic school.

Nick Kennedy, chairman of governors, said: “This dec- ision secures the future of the school which is wonderful. The school has been struggling for its future for five, or six, years now.

“Various routes have been explored and come to nothing, so this is a very pos-itive outcome for the community.

“Everybody’s contract of employment is protected and this is a successful and popular school.”

Following the ratification from the government, the school’s governors unanimously passed a resolution yesterday requesting an ‘Academy Order’ from the Secretary of State, which will allow the school to become an academy.

Canon Anthony McBride, from the Diocese of Salford, said: “Salford Diocese, anxious for the welfare of the pupils, staff and whole school community, and recognising the huge degree of confidence that the parents have for the school, is delighted that the Cidari Trust will be the sponsoring body to now take the school forward.

“Getting to this point has been a complicated process. “There was no ‘blueprint’, but great willingness from Blackburn Diocese and its Cidari Trust; the Salford Diocesan Trustees and the school’s own governing body has ensured a successful conclusion to the ongoing discussions and the child-ren will now continue to have the highest quality of education, and care,” he added There are currently three schools that are also set to join the Cidari Trust.

And an ‘unspecified’ number of others are pursuing the status.

The only school that the trust currently runs is St George’s High School, in Blackpool.