Baby boom piles pressure on Sheffield secondaries

Wisewood School, which has been demolished
Wisewood School, which has been demolished
Have your say

SHEFFIELD Council is to spend millions of pounds creating hundreds of extra secondary school places – after closing two secondaries in the past four years.

A baby boom has already resulted in 800 extra primary school places being added.

Wisewood School, which has been demolished

Wisewood School, which has been demolished

And there are plans for two further primary schools in Fir Vale and Shirecliffe.

But, as the children get older, new secondary school places will be needed for them before the end of the decade.

The council says extra places will be created by expanding existing schools - but could also be ‘through new provision’. That comes after Abbeydale Grange and Wisewood schools were closed, despite opposition.

Toby Mallinson, chairman of Save Our Community Schools group which campaigned against the merger of Wisewood and Myers Grove to form Forge Valley School, said: “We said all along pupil numbers were going to rise. We told the council and they ignored us.”

Jean Gleadall, who chairs Wisewood Tenants’ and Residents’ Association, added: “I’m disgusted. All the heartache of closing our school has been for nothing.”

Green Party central ward Coun Rob Murphy, part of the campaign to save Abbeydale Grange School, said: “We said pupil numbers were going to rise and the closure was unnecessary.”

But Coun Harry Harpham, council deputy leader who, as cabinet member for education, took the decision to merge Wisewood and Myers Grove, said: “It was based on figures provided at the time by officials, and due to the need to remove surplus places as a condition of securing funding to rebuild secondary schools from the Government.”

Coun Colin Ross, Liberal Democrat opposition deputy leader, added: “Decisions taken regarding Abbeydale Grange were made on the facts available, and population growth in the east of the city fails to justify keeping an under-used school in the south west of the city open.”

A council spokeswoman said: “Births are continuing to rise and, by the end of the decade, the council expects to need around 500 additional secondary school places across Sheffield.

“The council is now working with heads and governors in secondary schools to look at how these places can be provided through a range of options, that will mainly be by increasing the intakes of existing secondary schools but could also mean new provision.”

Was the closure of Abbeydale and Wisewood the correct decision?