Friday, June 6, 2014

News: Brand new school planned for Oakwood

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A construction project for a "brand new school" at Oakwood is making progress again, four years after the entire school building project in Rotherham was stopped by the coalition government.

£98m worth of Building Schools for the Future (BSF) projects at Abbey SEN, Aston, Hilltop SEN, Milton, Oakwood, St Pius and Swinton in Rotherham were stopped by the coalition government in 2010.

The ambitious plan by the Labour government to rebuild every secondary school in England was controversially axed by Michael Gove, the Secretary of State for Education, who told the Commons at the time that the scheme had been hit by "massive overspends, tragic delays, botched construction projects and needless bureaucracy."

More than 700 school building projects in the country were cancelled when BSF was scrapped and it meant that only one school on Rotherham, the converted Maltby Academy, progressed a major revamp. A new Business and Enterprise centre opened at the Academy last year. The centre is one of two new buildings as part of the £10.9m construction programme undertaken by BAM Construction that also includes refreshing, remodelling and refurbishing other parts of the academy's estate.

Now, plans are being progressed for a significant new build school on the site of Oakwood High School on Moorgate Road. In 2012, the school, formerly known as Oakwood Technology College, made it onto the Priority School Building Programme (PSBP), the government's centrally managed programme set up to address the needs of the schools most in need of urgent repair. With the £2.4 billion first phase of the programme rebuilding 261 of the schools in England in the worst condition, a second phase was recently announced.

With 1,000 children on site on a daily basis, in a building that was designed for maximum of 600 pupils, plans have been developed for a three storey school building with a sports hall to replace the current buildings at Oakwood.

Writing to parents earlier this year, David Naisbitt, headteacher at Oakwood High School, said: "We are at present negotiating with the Department for Education about the funding of a new school building for Oakwood High School. Working together we believe that we can deliver a "brand new" school on this site by the summer of 2016. This will be a modern and "fit for purpose" school building that would allow us to further enhance our educational provision.

"We are all committed to working to ensure that whilst the project is being built that we do not impact in any way upon the learning of our pupils at the school."

Oakwood was not included in the private finance projects already announced for Yorkshire and could be a capital funded project, funded directly by the Education Funding Agency (EFA). The contractors framework and the selection of a lead contractor for the project is being finalised.

Oakwood High School website

Images: Oakwood High School

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