Initial opposition has vanished say staff

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TEACHERS at Sheffield’s new Forge Valley School claim previous community anger at its creation has now disappeared.

Much-loved community secondary schools Wisewood and Myers Grove have closed to make way for the new institution, which opens next week.

Diane McKinlay, head at Wisewood for the last 10 years and new principal at Forge Valley, said initial opposition to the merger had now vanished.

“Many members of the community are really excited about the school,” she said.

“They can see it’s going to be fantastic building which will replace two buildings past their sell-by date and no longer fit for purpose.

“We are recruiting for a sixth form for the first time which families in this area have wanted for a long, long time.

“We have not had negative comments for a long time, and I think we are well past that.”

Beryl Harlow, who has been acting site head at Wisewood for the past year, said: “I’ve been here 40 years so of course I’m sad. But the children here desperately need to be in new 21st-century buildings.

“If that’s the only way we can get that, then that’s what we have to do.

“Our staff and kids have handled these turbulent few years really, really well. They are a phenomenal group of staff and the kids have been very resilient.”

Wisewood maths teacher Alida Allen, who joined the staff in 1985, said: “This is a real community school and people reacted strongly against the merger at first.

“But it’s a done deal and we have to move on. It would be inappropriate for us to dwell on it.

“Of course we’re sad to be leaving - but we are very excited as well at the new challenges ahead.”

Myers Grove deputy head Alison Inkson said: “It’s going to be an exciting time. The fact we’re closing is sad, but what is nice is that we are going to be able to take a number of these children with us.

“For a long time Myers Grove has been seen as the poor relation in this part of Sheffield. But with today’s results we are going into Forge Valley as equals with Wisewood.”

Ms McKinlay added: “This is the end of an era but it’s also the start of a very exciting new era which will move education in this part of the city to the next step.

“We have had some lovely celebration events at the end of term, with some great memories served.”

Out of 180 teaching staff at the new school, 175 have come from the two previous institutions. Eight teachers have lost their jobs.

Ms McKinlay paid tribute to the achievements of Andy Ireland, who has not got a job at the new school, despite his achievements in turning around Myers Grove and presiding over both schools for the last year.

She said: “He has done a brilliant job at Myers Grove. I’m confident he will have a brilliant future. Every school Andy works with will benefit.” Mr Ireland said he would be working with the local education authority from September, but was aiming to secure a headship job in Sheffield.