Councillors approved the proposals to extend the academy in West Bridgford – managed by the Spencer Academy Trust – at a Policy Committee meeting yesterday (Wednesday 17 March). It is to try to meet the rising demand for secondary school places in our area up to September 2025. This need has largely been brought about by a significant amount of new housing construction in this part of Rushcliffe – with many more homes also now on the way as part of the Rushcliffe Local Plan Part 2.
As the usual feeder school for Ruddington, the shortage of places at Rushcliffe School caused an outcry in our village early this month when it was revealed that around a dozen St Peter’s Junior School pupils – who would have expected to be moving up to Rushcliffe School – had been allocated places at South Wolds Academy in Keyworth instead. As well as this being twice as far to travel from Ruddington, it would mean our children being split up from their lifelong friends, and parents with offspring at different locations left with an impractical school run. Many have appealed the decision for this September and are being supported by St Peter’s School and Ruddington Borough Councillors.
County Councillors yesterday also approved a totally new secondary school on land off Regatta Way, near Gamston, which it is hoped will also ease the situation for Ruddington. This will provide 600 extra places, including a 200 place sixth form, and is expected to open in 2024. Further design work, surveys and planning work will now be carried out to be developed into detailed planning applications.
Councillor Philip Owen, Chairman of NCC’s Children and Young People’s Committee, says: “My priority is to give all children and young people the best possible start in life. We have a duty to ensure that there are sufficient school places available to meet demand. I am committed to doing all I can to help parents and carers send their children to their preferred choice of school. I’m proud to say we have a good record on this, with a continuously high proportion of families in the county being offered their preferred school. We have many excellent schools, 85.9% of which are rated ‘Good’ or ‘Outstanding’. But we must continue to look to the future and provide more places for our growing communities.”
He adds: “The expansion of Rushcliffe School will also play an important part in providing enough overall school places to meet the needs of parents and families. It is an excellent school where pupils can achieve their potential, and I’m confident that it will go from strength to strength. I don’t want children to have to learn in outdated buildings, but new, modern environments, fit for the future and these plans will help us achieve that.”
However, the expanded facilities at Rushcliffe School and the new build school at Gamston are not expected to be ready until between 2023 and 2025 – which is leading to concerns that Ruddington families might yet have another two or three years of uncertainty about their children getting in at their secondary school of choice.