Dismay and anger as new schools face further delays

July 28 2022

LYDE Green's new secondary and primary schools are being delayed for another year.

The two schools, planned to be built side by side on Honeysuckle Road, will not now open their doors until September 2024 – two years after the opening date originally given when £26 million funding for the schools was announced last year.

A joint statement from South Gloucestershire Council, the government and the education trusts due to run the two schools said talks on funding had not yet finished – and building work is not expected to start until next year.

The news has been described as frustrating and "very disappointing" by the leaders of the two school trusts, and "appalling" by an Emersons Green town councillor, who said families on the fast-growing estate were being failed.

A statement was released on July 18 on behalf of the council, Olympus Academy Trust, which will run the secondary school, Castle School Education Trust (CSET), which is due to run the primary school in tandem with its existing school in Willowherb Road, and the regional schools commissioner’s office.

It said: "To provide surety to families who will be looking to apply for school places in the autumn for the following academic year, we must with regret defer the anticipated opening date for the new secondary school for Lyde Green until September 2024.

"This also means that the construction of the new primary school, delivered as part of a single project with the secondary school, will also be delayed."

The council says it will work with existing nearby schools to ensure there are enough places to meet demand for primary and secondary places, including "providing transport assistance when the nearest suitable school is not within walking distance of home".

This year secondary extra places were funded at Downend School and Winterbourne Academy, while many parents who missed out on places at Lyde Green Primary were offered places at Barley Close in Mangotsfield.

The joint statement blamed "challenging market conditions in the construction industry", which were affecting costs, and said the council and Department for Education had to "focus on securing best value within a reasonable timescale". 

The schools' sports facilities are expected to be finished later this year.

Council cabinet member for schools Erica Williams, said: “We recognise and share the frustration that families will feel at the ongoing delay to this project. The challenges being faced by developers of all major projects, in terms of rising costs and availability of supplies, are being felt as we look to finalise our plans for these new schools for Lyde Green." 

Olympus Academy Trust chief executive Dave Baker said: “We share the school community’s frustration, but we want to be clear and open with families. We are committed to delivering the new school and to providing the best possible learning environment."  

CSET chief executive William Roberts said: “It is very disappointing that the opening of the second primary school for Lyde Green has been further delayed. Over recent years CSET has worked with South Gloucestershire Council to provide the additional primary and secondary places needed for Lyde Green children, and we will continue to do everything we can to accommodate as many local children as possible in existing schools whilst we wait for the new provision to open.” 

BAM Construction is responsible for designing and building the school.

Construction manager Rob Shipp said: "With the industry-wide cost and supply challenges it is important that the scheme provides best value for money."

Town councillor Matt Palmer said the community was being "failed".

He said: "There is a desperate need for school places across the local area. Time and time again assurances and promises have been broken.

"As a community I believe we should challenge this delay and write to the Education Secretary and MPs. Enough is enough!"