GOVERNORS from St Monica’s RC High School have been given the backing of Bury Council in their bid to build a £6.6 million sixth-form college.

Last year, the Guide revealed that the school, which has space for 1,050 pupils, wants to expand so it can teach 250 more students aged 16 to 18.

work has been going on behind the scenes since then and, at last week’s council executive meeting, councillors voted to support the proposal, paving the way for a sixth-form college to open on September 1, 2011, at the site on Bury Old Road, Prestwich.

On that date, the college would admit 150 new students and a further 100 would enrol a year later. They would study vocational subjects, like sports science, creative arts, performing arts and dance, hospitality and catering and foundation skills.

Headteacher Mr Frank McCarron said he is delighted to have the council’s blessing, but there was still work to be done before the dream can become a reality.

He added: “It is really good news and we are pleased to have overcome this hurdle.

“Now we need to work on the design of the proposed building.

“Once that has been done, we will look at submitting a formal planning application to the council in February.

“All being well, we hope to secure planning permission in June or July, at which point we will start digging into the turf.”

The Government has proposed to make it compulsory for all children to stay in full-time education or training until their 18th birthday from 2015.

St Monica’s has been able to press ahead with the development because it is rated by Ofsted as a high-performing school — a pre-requisite for all schools wanting to open sixth forms.