A TEMPORARY school which is set to open in the borough for two years while a 900-place venue is built has been labelled a ‘shambles’ by a councillor after a last-minute site change was revealed.
Trinity Academy St Edward’s, which had planning permission to build a temporary home on Broadway, Kingstone, while a permanent building is constructed on the same site will now be housed in Eastgate House in the town centre due to ‘unforeseen circumstances’.
Leaders behind the scheme assured parents the premises – last used by Barnsley College – would be a stop-gap from September, with the all-new site set to open in 2023.
However, future doubt has been cast this week after it was revealed a planning application for the new building has not yet been submitted.
Coun Peter Fielding, who represents the Dodworth ward, told the Chronicle: “It’s concerning to see the shambles that’s unravelling with the provision of the additional secondary school places at Trinity Academy St Edward’s.
“There’s been dithering over the whole process – it was decided to build a temporary school on the Kingstone site to be used for two years to allow time to build the permanent one.
“A good six months before this, parents were encouraged to apply for places at this new school in the mistaken belief that one would be built.
“Parents now deserve to be reassured that the permanent school will be ready on time, for September 2023, as planning permission has not been sought yet.
“The school’s principal – Mark Allen – seems to indicate that he thinks that planning permission for the permanent school is a forgone conclusion but that is by no means the case as councillors will have to assess the various impacts of a new 900-place school in this location.
“It’s time this debacle was properly reviewed so that our children get the carefully planned education they deserve, not this chaotic last-minute changing of minds.”
Cabinet members approved a report recommending the Broadway site was handed over to the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government for a nominal fee of £1 – on the basis that the council will not commit any further funding to the scheme.
The proposed disposal of the site was justified because ‘the cost of building a school will be substantially more than the value of the land’.
Forecasts to 2027 predict an extra 657 secondary school places will be needed in Barnsley.
“The borough needs an additional secondary school because of the growth in numbers and the school needs to be in the central planning area to meet that,” said council leader Sir Steve Houghton.
“The council doesn’t have the resources to build that school, and the government will only fund free school operators.
“But it’s obviously subject to planning, which will look at this independently and objectively.”