Trust’s ‘absolute confidence’ in new Sheffield secondary

An artist's impression of the new school Sheffield Council wants to build on the site of the former Bannerdale Centre. Photo: Bond Bryan Architects
An artist's impression of the new school Sheffield Council wants to build on the site of the former Bannerdale Centre. Photo: Bond Bryan Architects

An academy chain has been signed up to run a secondary school planned to be built in south-west Sheffield.

The Mercia Learning Trust - the multi-academy trust founded by King Ecgbert School in Dore - will take on the running of the school, expected to open in September next year on the Bannerdale site off Carter Knowle Road.

The school - to be known as Mercia School - will join the trust’s other sites, neighbouring secondary Newfield and the Nether Edge and Totley primaries, both rated ‘outstanding’ by Ofsted.

It is the second academy sponsor for the Bannerdale school, for which planning permission still needs to be obtained. The Silverdale Multi-Academy Trust had agreed to take on the facility initially, but pulled out in November, citing an ‘unacceptable financial risk’.

However, Sheffield Council says Mercia Learning has carried out a ‘detailed review’ of the building designs and the financial situation.

The planned school, which will cater for 11-18 year olds, is set to have no defined catchment area, serving the whole of south-west Sheffield - meaning any child currently in a south-west primary school will have the right to apply for a place.

Lesley Bowes, the trust’s CEO, said: “Mercia has the necessary credibility with the parents and families of the south-west to lead the new school into a confident future. Generations of children have been served very well by the trust’s founding school King Ecgbert and its primary schools.”

She added: “The offer of Mercia School will be very different. We intend it to be a traditional school with its culture rooted in exceptionally high behavioural standards.”

Both of the trust’s secondaries outstripped schools nationally on the new Progress 8 and Attainment 8 measures in 2016.

King Ecgbert and Newfield have offered extra Year 7 places in 2017, to meet demand in advance of the new school opening.

Jayne Ludlam, executive director for children, young people and families at the council, said the trust made sure it had ‘absolute confidence’ before signing up, and that the Regional Schools Commissioner had approved the deal on behalf of the Secretary of State for Education.

Council cabinet member Coun Jackie Drayton said that, under Mercia, the new secondary would be ‘the very best it can be’.

Public meetings will be held just prior to, and after, the Easter break for parents and children to find out more.

Group opposes proposal

A community association that objects to the school proposal claims the scheme is ‘unnecessary, badly-planned, dangerous and opposed by a large proportion of local residents’.

Mike Hodson, chair of the Carter Knowle and Millhouses Community Group, said the society had objected on traffic, noise and environmental grounds.

An application has been lodged to build 65 homes on the site of the old Bannerdale centre, near to where the school would be. Outline plans were approved in 2014 – developer Barrett Homes is now asking the council to approve the scheme’s appearance, landscaping, layout and scale.