Plans for new Leeds city centre academy revealed EXCLUSIVE

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Groundbreaking plans for a new city-centre academy for three to 19-year-olds are today revealed.

The Leeds Academy, which would be located in “city centre south”, is expected to cost around £17m and looks set to become the largest free school in the country.

With around 1,500 students, it could provide around a quarter of the places needed to address the city’s current shortfall and create around 120 new teaching jobs.

As well as driving up educational standards in the inner-city, the project is also expected to be a catalyst for the regeneration of the area between the River Aire and the motorways, which is home to numerous vacant sites.

The ambitious plans have been drawn up by Leeds with the GORSE Academies Trust – a charitable company which oversees the Morley and Farnley Academies in Leeds.

They include a Post-16 centre of excellence in mathematics and applied mathematics, in partnership with a local university.

The plans will be submitted to the Department for Education (DfE) next month, with the goal of welcoming the first pupils in summer 2014.

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David Lumb, Leeds architect and co-ordinator of LSDG – a network of individuals who share a commitment to improving the city – said: “Significant investment in social infrastructure such as schools, health centres and community facilities is vital to the creation of a long-term sustainable urban community in this area.

“There is already a shortage of school places in Leeds and by providing a new, centrally located, outstanding school, our aim is to kickstart development which will entice families to move back to this highly accessible area and encourage young families and city dwellers in their twenties and thirties to remain within the urban core.”

He added: “A successful, high-achieving school is a fundamental part of the social infrastructure of a 21st century city.”

He said the group was considering sites across the whole of the city centre south area.

John Townsley, executive principal of the GORSE Academies Trust, said the DfE was “extremely enthusiastic” about the scheme.

Capital funding for the project would primarily come through the DfE.

Leeds needs around six new secondary schools to accommodate its growing population and unless the shortfall is met, around 6,500 youngsters could be left without a secondary school place in September 2018.

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