THE Priory Ruskin Academy has secured multi-million pound funding from the Government to build a state-of-the-art school in Grantham.
The new school will be built in the grounds of the academy’s Manthorpe site in Rushcliffe Road (formerly Central Technology and Sports College) at a cost of just under £13.5 million.
It is expected to be complete by September 2013 and will lead to the merger of the Manthorpe site and the Queensway site (formerly Grantham Church High School).
Headteacher Clive Shepherd said: “It’s great for education, for Grantham and for the future. We are over the moon.”
Funding for the building was put under threat in July when the Government announced a complete overhaul of school funding.
Richard Gilliland, chief executive of the Priory Federation of Academies Trust - which runs the Ruskin Academy - said: “I’m not going to say there weren’t times when it was a bit edgy. There was a chance that the academy wouldn’t have opened in September. But we’re very pleased now.
“The whole idea of the academy is to provide world-class accommodation so that we can provide world-class education and you can’t do that in a building that’s crumbling from the inside out.”
The trust wants the academy, which is expected to have 1,200 students, to complement other schools in the area by specialising in visual arts, sports and health.
There will be specialist sixth form facilities, film and jewellery making areas and much more. There is also likely to be an all-weather outdoor pitch and the long-term plans include a swimming pool.
Mr Gilliland added: “We wanted to do something really different, really special and to give parents real choice. It’s fantastic for primarily the students but also it’s fantastic for the local community.”
When the two schools merged to form the academy in September last year some staff took voluntary redundancy as roles were duplicated. More job losses are expected when the school moves to a single site, but the trust hopes no compulsory redundancies will be made.
Mr Gilliland said he hopes the teaching staff will grow as the school becomes more popular.
The trust will look for a builder to carry out the work and hopes the project can begin in September, subject to planning permission.
Rob Reeve, headteacher of the Ruskin Academy Queensway site, is expected to move to a new role in the Priory Trust after the sites merge in 2013.
l Grantham MP Nick Boles has been involved with trying to keep the academy new build project on track since the Government announced its review of school funding.
He said: “It may not have been obvious to the outside world but it was touch and go as to whether it would get the money to do the rebuild.
“I think it is a significant development for the future of Grantham as was, say, the Grantham Hospital. I’m completely delighted to play my part in securing the funding in my first year as an MP.”
l Neighbours of the school have told the Journal they are concerned about the traffic impact of doubling the size of the school.
Peter Povey said: “I’m happy about the school and am all for education but access is the biggest problem and there’s also a problem with parking on the street. If there were two accesses rather than one that could take some of the transport.”
Neighbour Gail Barker said: “All I can think about is the amount of traffic. It’s going to double and there’s already enough. They park across the driveways. It’s going to be a nightmare.”
l What do you think of the plans? E-mail us: firstname.lastname@example.org