School places: Anger as dozens on Waverley estate, near Sheffield, rejected by ‘too small’ Waverley Academy

It has been one of the biggest housing developments near Sheffield in recent years.

Monday, 25th April 2022, 4:49 pm

But today residents are angry after discovering a shortage of school places despite a new school having been built specially for the Waverley estate, near the Parkway.

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Now angry parents are calling on education bosses to put in place temporary classrooms to deal with a massive shortfall of school places for families on the development.

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Angry parents are calling on education bosses to put in place temporary classrooms to deal with a major shortfall of school places for families on the Waverley development, near the Parkway.

Residents believe demand for places has left 39 youngsters unable to get into Waverley Academy, which was built to cater for the estate's youngsters. The council says 21 children living on the estate have missed out.

Parents who thought they would be able to walk their children to school when they bought their new houses are having to send them to schools miles away from their homes.

Many of the families affected by the shortage say they moved to the new estate, built on the former Orgreave coking plant site, because they wanted to send their children to the new nearby school that was promised, as part of their community. They have organised themselves into a group to campaign on the issue.

‘School not big enough’

Amy Ashton and daughter Taylor.Amy is upset that Taylor is one of dozens living on the estate who has not been given a place at Waverley Academy

Dad Tom Cleverley said he and his family had bought on the estate for the school, with a view to sending his daughter, Alice, there.

But he was told this week there was no room for Alice, who has instead been allocated a place at Treeton, more than two miles away.

"It’s one of the biggest new estates in Europe, and it’s not even half finished yet,” he said. “Already the school is not big enough. Those of us whose children have not got in are not best pleased.

"Alice is already in the nursery at the school, but that doesn’t count for anything.”

Bethany McNeil and daughter Darcy. She is upset Darcy is among dozens living on the new estate who not been given a place at Waverley Academy, near Sheffield

He said he was seething and added that he and other families wanted the authorities to check addresses that had been given in applications were genuine.

"I think they should put up pop-up classrooms in mobile buildings to stop this many children having to travel,” he added.

Mum Bethany McNeil said her child, Darcey, was also having to go to Treeton. She also bought on the new estate because she thought her children would be able to attend a local school.

She said: “Darcey has been going to the pre-school at Waverley since the age of two.

Tom Cleverley and daughter Alice. Tom is upset that Alice is one of dozens living on the Waverley estate who has not been given a place at Waverley Academy

"I wanted Darcey to be able to make friends at school, and play with them away from school, near home.”

She said dropping Darcey off at Treeton, and her younger child, Harry, at the nursery at Waverley would cause her major problems getting to work in Handsworth.

Call for mobile classrooms

Mum Amy Ashton also bought expecting a local school place. She lives around 600 yards from the Waverley Academy, but her daughter, Taylor, had been allocated a place at St Josephs, 1.7 miles away. She is 14th on the waiting list for a place.

"I’m going to have to look to change my working hours,” she said. “We had plans with friends and neighbours for shared pick up and drop offs. We can’t do that now.

"We moved here when I was pregnant, looking towards the school.

"I think the first thing they need to do is verify addresses from applications. Then they need to add an additional classroom. They have known about this a long time.”

Rother Valley MP Alexander Stafford shares the families’ concerns. He says Waverley is the sort of brownfield development that should be built, adding that Waverley residents were promised school places and other amenities, but those were years behind schedule.

He said: “Rotherham Council needs to step up and deliver not just the building of homes, but the supporting infrastructure and amenities to make sustainable communities.”

Rotherham Council blames the problem on the large number of young children on the estate.

Nathan Heath, assistant director for education and inclusion, said the council worked hard, with the support of local schools, developers, and health services, to ensure places are keeping pace with predicted demand in line with birth rates, residential developments, and other relevant factors, so almost all children in the borough securing a place at a school of their parents’ choosing.

‘Exceeding national formula’ says Rotherham Council

He added: “We are aware that unfortunately there are 21 children living within the Waverley catchment area who have not been accepted into Waverley Junior Academy. However, wherever possible, they have been offered places at their second and third preference schools, all within two miles of their home.

“Waverley Junior Academy is one of two primary schools planned for the Waverley development. We use an established, national formula to calculate how many school places are typically required to meet demand. As of February 2022, there were 1,354 houses occupied on the Waverley estate which should generate a pupil yield of around 38 per year group. The developer met their obligation to open Waverley Junior Academy to accommodate 60 children which, typically, would be sufficient to meet demand for 2,000 homes.

“However, the Waverley development is far exceeding the national formula at present, particularly in the infant and pre-school age groups, with around 60-90 children living in the catchment area. Unfortunately this means the school is unable to accommodate any more children. The council is restricted in what it can do to provide additional classroom space due to the internal building layout and the developer obligation having been met to provide more capacity than would normally be expected.

“Any parent or carer whose child is refused a place at the academy has a legal right of appeal against the decision not to offer a place. Appeals are heard by an independent panel and the decisions the panel make are legally binding on all parties.

“Any reported cases of potential fraudulent applications will be investigated and possibly withdrawn. We encourage any suspected fraudulent applications to be reported to the admissions department.”