28 October 2020| | 3 min read
New Newcastle schools making progress
Four new schools to help meet rising pupil populations in Newcastle are moving closer to welcoming their first students.
Two of the schools, Great Park Academy for children aged 9 to 16, and the relocation of Broadway East First School, were first proposed for the Newcastle Great Park site in 2016.
Construction of the new Simonside Primary School on the site of the former Simonside Community Centre is underway. This will also create space for a new secondary school, Callerton Academy, to be built on the current primary school site and adjacent land.
Delays in obtaining planning permission at Newcastle Great Park, and further complications due to the COVID-19 pandemic, have had knock-on effects for the projects, but all four are now making progress.
Broadway East First School
The relocated Broadway East First School, part of the Gosforth Schools’ Trust, now has full planning permission and is expected to start on site early next year and be completed in 2022, increasing the number of places available for four to nine-year-old children in Newcastle Great Park.
Great Park Academy
Newcastle City Council has funded a new building at Gosforth Academy to provide additional capacity needed due to the delays at Newcastle Great Park. This facility will enable Great Park Academy, part of the Gosforth Group, to open in 2021 on this site prior to its permanent home at Newcastle Great Park being completed. Subject to full planning approval, it is hoped the new building at Newcastle Great Park, which will be delivered by the Department for Education (DfE), will be completed in 2023.
Parents children currently in Year 4 wishing to submit applications for their child at Great Park Academy in Year 5 in 2021, at the temporary Gosforth Academy site, can make a separate online application for that school as well as an online application for the other three Gosforth middle schools. A dual application process is required when a new free school is opening, as offers of places are conditional until the funding agreement with the Department for Education (DfE) is signed.
These secondary school transfer applications are due by October 31, although applications made for Great Park Academy up to 31 December will be considered given that the start of the application process has been delayed.
Simonside Primary School
Simonside Primary School will relocate to their newly built premises next to the existing school. The new building will have capacity for 420 pupils plus a nursery and will build on the success of the current school which holds an ‘Good’ OFSTED grading. Work by Robertson Construction is progressing well on site, following the introduction of new working practices to meet Covid-19 safety requirement, and the school should be able to move into its new building in Easter 2021.
The new school for 11 to 16-year olds will also be part of the Gosforth Group of Academies. Outline planning approval was granted in 2019 and the DfE is working with the academy trust and contractors to progress the designs and gain full planning approval.
As secondary school places are needed in Newcastle prior to the new school building being completed, which is likely to be in 2023, it is proposed to open Callerton Academy in a temporary location. This will be a former school site in the inner west of the city. Pupils on roll at the school will move into the brand-new school once it is ready.
Parents and carers can now apply for places for Year 7 for September 2021. Parents of a child currently in Year 6 wishing to submit applications for their child at Callerton Academy in Year 7, at the temporary site, should make a separate online application for that school as well as an online application for four other secondary schools. As with Great Park academy, a dual application process is required when a new free school is opening, as offers of places are conditional until the funding agreement with the DfE is signed. These secondary school transfer applications are due by October 31, although separate applications made for Callerton Academy up to 31 December will be considered given that the start of the application process has been delayed.
Cllr Paula Holland, cabinet member for Education and Skills at Newcastle City Council, said “We are delighted that the new building that was recently completed at Gosforth Academy will be used from September 2021 as the temporary home for the new Great Park Academy until their permanent site is built at Newcastle Great Park.
“This is a direct result of the investment and joint working by the City Council and Gosforth Group and thanks to the Robertson Group for delivering the scheme to a very high standard of quality under what have been very difficult circumstances during the COVID-19 pandemic.”
George Snaith, Chair of Trustees for Gosforth Group, said: ‘We have been working on this project for a number of years to provide much needed school places for families moving into the many housing developments around our area.
“Although it may still be some time before the new building is complete on the Great Park itself, excellent accommodation will be provided in a brand new, self-contained, classroom block at the Knightsbridge site.”
Hugh Robinson, CEO of Gosforth Group, said: “We are truly excited to be moving forward with opening this new school on Newcastle Great Park and look forward to welcoming our new Year 5s into the brand new classroom block on the Gosforth Academy site while their state of the art permanent building is under construction.”
Louise Thompson, Head Teacher at Simonside Primary School, said: “We are delighted to see the fabulous progress being made on our new school development. We are very thankful, especially in the current times, to all those involved who are making this a reality. Our whole school community will benefit hugely from this investment and our pupils will have excellent opportunities in this purpose-built learning environment. Our school motto is to always ‘dream, believe and achieve’. We are certainly fulfilling this dream!”
A number of other projects to create additional school places in the city have also been delivered or are planned, including a new larger building for Dinnington First School and expansions of Thomas Bewick and Sir Charles’ Parsons special schools.
For further information about school transfers and applications, visit https://www.newcastle.gov.uk/services/schools-learning-and-childcare/apply-school-place/applying-transfer-places/important