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The former Archbishop of Canterbury George Carey gave his blessing to a new school named in his honour and set to become one of the most important landmarks of a 10,000-home development.

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Lord Carey of Clifton, one of Dagenham’s most famous sons, last week toured George Carey CoE Primary in Minter Road, which now forms the centrepiece of the new housing development, Barking Riverside.

He told the Post: “It was a real honour to have a school named after me. The children were wonderful and a real credit to their parents and school staff.

“The Bishop of Chelmsford and the Bishop of Barking shared the day, so it was a trinity of bishops who joined the children.”

Acute shortage

The £11.5million community school opened its doors in September as part of an attempt to tackle the acute shortage of school places in Barking and Dagenham. Around 250 pupils are on the roll but the intake is set to soar to 350 next year, headteacher Chris Harrison, 48, said.

He added: “It was an honour having George Carey at our school and exiting for the children to finally meet the man whose name has been used. Lord Carey appeared touched and honoured that the building has been named after him and has promised to keep regular contact with the school in the future.”

A secondary school is scheduled to open at the site this September. The area is expected to have more than 10,000 homes within the next two decades.

Mr Harrison said: “At the moment we’ve got families moving in all the time. The school was completed first so that it could be the hub of the community.

“The secondary school will start in September and it is absolutely vital if we have got so many families moving in. We can’t build the community without a primary and a secondary.”

Church leaders including the Bishop of Barking, the Rt Revd David Hawkins, and the Bishop of Chelmsford, the Rt Revd Stephen Cottrell, joined the grand opening with Barking MP Margaret Hodge on March 27.

The dignitaries were also shown the school’s new crest which is made up of a Christian cross, the Thames and a dove.

The school welcomes pupils from different religious backgrounds and those of no faith.

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