£6.7m on temporary school building in Middleton to meet demand for places

Plans to pump £6.7m into pushing forward the opening of a new school in south Leeds are set to go before Leeds City Council decision makers this week.

Tuesday, 16th March 2021, 11:15 am
Updated Tuesday, 16th March 2021, 11:22 am

Plans to build the new Cockburn Laurence Calvert free school had been approved in 2017, and is being built by the Department for Education and is expected to open at some point during the 2022/23 academic year.

However, due to the need for school places in South Leeds, £6m – most of which is to come from Leeds City Council coffers – is expected to be spent on a temporary building to house years 7 and 8 over the next two years.

According to a report going before councillors, the temporary site would accommodate 210 year 7 places from September 2021 and another 210 year 8 places in September 2022.

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The school is set to open early, with a temporary building to take students in from September 2021.

The first phase of the temporary building is expected to include seven general teaching classrooms, two science classrooms as well as one food tech, and one design and technology classroom. A learning resource centre – more commonly known as a library – will also be included, with the usual kitchens, staff room and toilet facilities.

Phase two of the temporary building will feature a further four teaching classrooms, a music classroom and and ICT suite.

The school would be situated on the council-owned Middleton Park Depot site.

Work is hoped to start on the temporary site next month, but council officers still warn there is little time to lose with getting started, and claim the plans should be exempt from being “called in” by councillors for further scrutiny.

As far as the permanent school structure plans go, the report claimed the DfE’s current plans show a “very constrained programme” for opening in time for September 2022.

It added: “Recent conversations with the DfE have highlighted the potential for an opening of the school at a point in time during the 2022/23 academic year.

“To date the ongoing shortfall in south Leeds has been managed through placing temporary bulge cohorts and permanently expanding existing schools in the South.

“However, without the Cockburn Laurence Calvert free school opening for 2021 and potentially 2022, it is no longer possible to meet the full need through our existing portfolio. As a consequence the Council and the DfE have agreed to open a temporary school for September 2021.”

Despite the DfE being responsible for the building of the permanent school site, it only plans to contribute less than half of the total funds needed to go towards the temporary structure.

Over the two phases of building the temporary structure, £2,587,858 is set to come from the DfE, while £4,125,403 will be spent by Leeds City Council.

Members of Leeds City Council’s decision-making executive board are set to discuss the plans on Wednesday, March 17.