More secondary places in further schools measure

The demolition of Abbeydale Grange School on Hastings Road, Sheffield
The demolition of Abbeydale Grange School on Hastings Road, Sheffield

HUNDREDS of extra secondary school places are set to be created in Sheffield - despite the closure of two city high schools in the last four years.

A baby boom has already resulted in 800 extra primary school places being added, and there are plans for two further primary schools.

But as the children get older, new secondary school places will be needed for them before the end of the decade.

The council says extra places will be created by expanding existing schools and could also be ‘through new provision’.

It comes after Abbeydale Grange and Wisewood schools closed in the face of fierce opposition.

Toby Mallinson, chairman of Save Our Community Schools group which campaigned against the merger of Wisewood and Myers Grove to form Forge Valley School, said: “We said all along pupil numbers were going to rise. We told the council and they ignored us.”

Green Party central ward Coun Rob Murphy, part of the campaign to save Abbeydale Grange School, said: “We said pupil numbers were going to rise and the closure was unnecessary.”

And Jean Gleadall, who chairs Wisewood Tenants’ and Residents’ Association, added: “I’m disgusted. All the heartache of closing our school has been for nothing.”

Coun Harry Harpham, council deputy leader, who took the decision to merge Wisewood and Myers Grove as cabinet member for education, said: “It was based on figures provided at the time by officials and due to the need to remove surplus places as a condition of securing funding to rebuild secondary schools from the Government.”

Coun Colin Ross, Liberal Democrat opposition deputy leader, added: “Decisions taken regarding Abbeydale Grange were made on the facts available and population growth in the east of the city fails to justify keeping an under-used school in the south west of the city open.”

A council spokeswoman said: “Births are continuing to rise and by the end of the decade, the council expects to need around 500 additional secondary school places across Sheffield.

“The council is now working with heads and governors in secondary schools to look at how these places can be provided through a range of options that will mainly be by increasing the intakes of existing secondary schools, but could also mean new provision.”

Two primaries in Shirecliffe and Fir Vale are expected to be constructed and made ready for September 2014 at a cost of £11 million, as the population steadily increases.

The schools will be academies and located where the demand for places is greatest - but the future prospect of new primaries in Dore, Totley and Crosspool is not being ruled out.

Schools in the affluent suburbs are becoming over-subscribed because of a general increase in the number of applications.