New Sheffield college is on track

Rebecca Maxted,  of Chapeltown Academy.
Rebecca Maxted, of Chapeltown Academy.
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Public consultations are under way on plans for Sheffield’s first Government-financed free school - which is due to open its doors in September.

Chapeltown Academy will be a sixth form college aiming to offer A-level courses for up to 300 talented 16 to 19-year-olds from across the north of the city and beyond.

The consultation period runs for six weeks until February 14 and will judge local support for an agreement with ministers which would provide funding for the academy’s first seven years.

Views are also being sought on admissions arrangements and the overall vision for the institution.

But no details are yet being provided on where the academy will be based, as negotiations are said to be at a ‘commercially sensitive’ phase.

Director of operations and business Jack Joseph said headteacher Rebecca Maxted had officially taken up her duties on January 1.

“We passed our first deadline for student applications last month and we had a very strong level of demand,” he said.

“We are looking to recruit 150 students for our first year group and all the potential students have been interviewed.”

Mr Joseph said further consultations were likely once the site of the academy had been agreed.

“We are in the same situation as many other free schools but once an agreement has been reached things will move very quickly thanks to a streamlined planning process and a modular building design with prefabricated units.

“In some cases free schools have been set up in temporary premises to begin with but that is not a situation we expect to be facing,” he added.

A public meeting on the plans is to be held on January 22 at Chapeltown’s Newton Hall Community Facility, when trustees will be available for questions.

A report will be published in the spring. Backers of the project say there are 12 secondaries within a five-mile radius of Chapeltown but only one sixth form.