A new super school on the former Don Valley Stadium site will kick-start regeneration and see the area ‘rising from the flames’ when it opens its doors in September.
The £17 million school, run by Oasis Learning Trust, will open its doors in Attercliffe to fewer than 200 nursery and primary school children at the start of the new school year. But by 2022, the pupil roll at Oasis Academy Don Valley will have grown to 1,200 primary, secondary and early years places.
To mark the completion of the building shell, members of the local community and those involved with the project were invited to a tree planting ceremony and got their first glimpse inside the state-of-the-art facility.
Coun Jackie Drayton, cabinet member for children, young people and families, said the new school will kick-start regeneration in the area.
She said: “We should reflect and remember what Don Valley was. This Don Valley was full of steelworks where hundreds of Sheffield families worked, which in the 1980s were decimated.
“What Sheffield Council did was to regenerate this area by using sport, so they built Don Valley – the phoenix rising from the flames. They built the English Institute of Sport and everything else. Unfortunately due to the massive savage cuts that we had and due to the lack of use of Don Valley we had to pull it down. I was one of those who was very sad that that happened.
“It was like we were stifling the flames which had started Sheffield on that path of regeneration.
“It is absolutely brilliant to be standing here to see the phoenix rising from the flames which is going to make young people coming out, going into other jobs, maybe steel jobs.
“We are a city of heritage and innovation and this school, with this partnership, is going to produce the young people to take control of their lives and help us to continue to build our Sheffield.”
Principal James Pape said being involved in children’s education from when they are two right up to when they turn 16 was a great opportunity.
He said: “It’s a really, really exciting position to be in, to take children all the way through their education. It’s really beneficial to them.
“Transition across any year group is always difficult. I am a secondary practitioner by trade, so I know that to take children from Year 7 from a number of different primary schools is always difficult.
“They have to learn new routines and make new friends. We’ll completely avoid that here. Yes, we will take 90 children from other schools, but we will have children who have been here since they were young to work with them and act as buddies.”
He said the community had really got behind the project and were fully supportive of the new school. The PE teacher added: “It’s a really exciting opportunity to do something special for these children, who really deserve it, and for a community that possibly haven’t had an opportunity like this to have their own school. They are really grasping this with both hands.”