The Star Says: School can continue site’s excellence

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Whatever the origins of the new super school on the former Don Valley Stadium site it is exciting that it will open its doors in September.

We can argue all day long about how the stadium was managed, the costs of building and maintaining it, and how Sheffield’s sporting city tag took a massive blow when the decision was made to demolish it.

Many people don’t disagree with its closure, their anger is directed at how much it cost, over such a long period of time for it to be reduced to a pile of rubble at the stroke of a pen.

The rights and wrongs of the sporting discussion will long be discussed but there is no doubt that the £17 million school, run by Oasis Learning Trust, will kick-start regeneration and see the area ‘rising from the flames’ when it opens.

Fewer than 200 nursery and primary school children will attend at the start of the new school year. But by 2022, the pupil roll at Oasis Don Valley Academy will have grown to 1,200 primary, secondary and early years places.

Before the site was a sports facility it was part of an area filled with steel works.

The leisure regeneration – through the building of the stadium, iceSheffield, the English Institute of Sport and Sheffield Arena – have totally changed the character of the east end of the city.

Yes, losing Don Valley Stadium wasn’t part of the long term vision but there are still plans for sport to remain at heart of the site’s redevelopment alongside the other venues.

Now the school, under Principal James Pape, will welcome children from the age of two and work with them throughout their education.

Over the years there will be a real chance for the school to make a big difference to the city.

It is important that the local community continue to get behind the project.

But it is also vital that the wider city region takes an interest.

Through working together and supporting new developments across our area we can make all our communities stronger.

For the children who attend the new school this is their future. This is where their hopes and dreams will be forged.

From the hard grafting steelworkers through to the athletic genius of Jessica Ennis-Hill the site has a track-record of excellence.

We wish Oasis Don Valley Academy well in continuing that tradition.