By Jasmine Lee-Zogbessou
Plans to build new secondary schools in Sheffield are underway after the council received an overwhelming response from the public.
Overall 1400 responses were collected from parents, carers and residents from a consultation to build new schools and expand others in order to meet the growing demand for school places in areas of major population growth.
However not everyone is happy about the site where the new school will be built on.
The areas that will be transformed include the former Bannerdale centre where an 11-18 school will be built, the temporary expansion of Silverdale, which will provide additional 60 secondary school places in the next two years and the expansion of Ecclesall Infant School.
Members of the public who attended the council meeting yesterday, 17th February, argued that the Bannerdale site isn’t suitable for children.
Kitty Evans, a parent and attendee of the council meeting, had this to say: “Bannerdale has been deemed unsuitable for development, so what has changed?”
The ‘car park area’ is described in several previous Council documents as being a former landfill site, which has poor ground conditions that make it incompatible for housing development.
Councillor Jackie Drayton, Cabinet Member for Children, Young People and Families, didn’t respond to this point but said:
“We have to create a school which is vital for the places and if you know parents and carers in that area, they had a terrible time this September, not being able to get their children in their catchment schools even though they lived in the catchment area, because there’s not enough school places in the area.”
“It would be mad of us to spend lots of money in expanding the existing schools when four years down the line we need to build another secondary school.”
“We have to look in the long term and the long term is showing us, we need extra places, more than could be provided in the existing secondary schools. That’s why we put the proposal to build a new school.”
The leader of the council, Councillor Julie Dore said, “I can understand why people are concerned. We can’t please all of the people all of the time.”
The Bannerdale site used to be a school, which was built in the 1930s, however it was closed down.
‘Local children going to local schools.’
In the case of Silverdale, the council have agreed to see what happens in the first year of its expansion and whether it will be successful before making it permanent.
The main subject of the meeting however was all about creating new places where they are needed for the local children and their future children.
Councillor Julie Dore concluded the meeting by saying:
“The top priority in these decisions is the education of our children and young people in this city.”
More detail on the cabinet report can be found here.