Blow as bid for new school fails

June 25 2019

PLANS for an all-age school in Lyde Green to serve the growing population have been dealt a blow.

The Department for Education has turned down a proposal from SGS Academy Trust for a school to open in 2021.
The trust, which is sponsored by South Gloucestershire and Stroud College, says it will put in a fresh application in September.
But the wait for Government approval could delay the opening of the school, meaning continued pressure on the estate’s primary school, other primaries in Emersons Green and Downend, and local secondary schools.
South Gloucestershire Council has allocated £10.6 million of funding, which has been handed over by Lyde Green developers to pay for education infrastructure, to the all-through free school.
SGS College principal Sara-Jane Watkins said the schools that were approved in the latest round of applications were in areas of higher deprivation than South Gloucestershire.
She said this mean that securing approval this time around “was always going to be challenging”.
New schools can now only be opened by making a free school bid. Factors including the need for school places, levels of disadvantage, and educational philosophy are taken into consideration in each ‘wave’ of applications.
Ms Watkins said: “We will be re-submitting under (the next wave) in September, which does not have the same constraints.”
She added that it was not clear whether this would delay the proposed opening date of September 2021 for the new 820-pupil school, as the Department for Education would set its opening date.
The trust plans to call the school, which would take children from the ages of four to 16, SGS Parkfield, after the Victorian colliery nearby.
A South Gloucestershire Council spokesperson said: “While we are disappointed that the Wave 13 bid for SGS Parkfield School was unsuccessful, this does not change the Council’s plan to commission a new school in Lyde Green, where we are still committed to adding primary and secondary education capacity, having already secured significant funding towards this as a result of the new housing growth.
“Following this announcement, we will explore the options for bidding for future funding rounds from central government.
“We will need to take some time and have discussions with our partners about the next steps we can take to increase school places available in the area in future.
“We are confident that there are adequate places available in the short term, but our aim remains to add a new all-through school as part of the Lyde Green development when the funding is available.”
A bid from Cabot Learning Federation for a new primary school in Warmley on the site of the Grange school was approved in the latest wave.
The new primary has a working title of Tower Road Primary and will be the third new primary provision the CLF will have opened in South Gloucestershire, following the successful design and build projects at Wallscourt Farm and King’s Oak Academies.
 The intention is for Tower Road Primary to open to a new reception class cohort in September 2021.