‘Sheffield Council exceeded basic legality’ over massive school expansion plan

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Ecclesall Infant School
High Storrs Road Sheffield
Stock Picture Ecclesall Infant School High Storrs Road Sheffield
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A consultation on plans to expand a school’s capacity from 180 to 630 pupils was carried out according to the rules, council chiefs have said.

Proposals to expand Ecclesall Infant School to 90 places per year, starting next September, as well as widening the age range to take children up to Year 6, or age 11, are expected to be approved by cabinet members at a Town Hall meeting next Wednesday.

Objectors had threatened to launch a legal bid challenging what they claimed was a ‘flawed consultation’ - but the process has been deemed ‘satisfactory’ by the authority.

The council says the consultation ran for five weeks, with 700 letters being posted through residents’ doors alongside five public meetings which were said to be well-attended.

Some 220 responses were received with 235 signatures opposing the plans.

The expansion is expected to cost around £5 million in response to demand for primary school places in the southwest of Sheffield.

A report to next week’s meeting shows that a rise in the birth rate, and the ‘significant movement’ of young families into the Ecclesall area, has been an ‘increasing’ trend over the past few years.

“In terms of the consultation process, the council remains satisfied that not only were the basic legal duties of consultation fulfilled, but that they were in many ways exceeded,” the report said.

“The number of public meetings and letters surpasses the requirements of the Secretary of State’s guidance and matches or surpasses previous school reorganisation projects.”

n Academy trusts have been picked to run two new schools in the south west and north east of Sheffield. Silverdale Multi Academy Trust will oversee the new secondary school on the former Bannerdale Centre site, while Reach4 Academy Trust will run the new ‘through school’ for two-to-18 year olds on the old Pye Bank School site in Pitsmoor. Both will open in 2018.