The Community of St Mary the Virgin (CSMV) in Wantage has just opened six new one-bedroom flats, designed to encourage newly qualified teachers to take up posts in Oxfordshire.

St Mary’s Lodge, a large late 19th century house on the St Mary’s Convent site has been converted into six self-contained flats. They will be let at affordable rents to newly qualified teachers taking up a post in the area.

“The cost of accommodation in Oxfordshire is very high,” says Alastair Hunter, the chair of CSMV’s Trustees, who have funded the conversion. “The Community of St Mary the Virgin has a long and very active association with education and teaching. The Sisters wanted to offer accommodation to the next generation of teachers, attracting the brightest and best to serve the schools and communities of Wantage and the surrounding area.”

Kathryn Walker, a Maths and PE teacher at King Alfred’s Academy is the first person to move in. “St Mary’s Lodge is the perfect place to live starting out in my professional career. My apartment is spacious, modern and equipped with high-quality fixtures and fittings. It has beautiful views of the Ridgeway, is conveniently located and I love living here.”

The Oxford Diocesan Schools Trust (ODST) and the Vale Academy Trust, two local Multi Academy Trusts, are using space at St Mary’s Convent for meetings and as a base for some of their central functions. David Locke, Chief Operating Officer at ODST commented, “We are delighted with the generous support of CSMV and the Sisters in progressing this important new venture. Many teachers at schools in Oxfordshire are finding accommodation costs excessive. We believe that these new flats are a positive and innovative step forward.”

“Teaching undergraduates in their final weeks at university and colleges are already applying for their first professional posts,” says Sister Stella, the Sister in Charge of CSMV. “We hope that when the autumn term starts in September the six flats in St Mary’s Lodge will all be taken and that local schools and the children and families they serve will benefit from this new legacy.”