Head and MP in college row

Rebecca Maxted, Chapeltown Academy Principal Designate
Rebecca Maxted, Chapeltown Academy Principal Designate
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A war of words has broken out after an MP called for the Government to rethink proposals to open Chapeltown Academy.

Penistone and Stocksbridge MP Angela Smith told the minister responsible for free school policy that demand for local sixth form places was balanced and expected to decline in a Commons adjournment debate.

The Sheffield MP said the academic college’s location on the Hydra business park was not suitable, a HGV repair garage would remain on site, and planners were also ‘concerned about highways implications’.

The academy had been chosen as a first preference by just 12 students, she claimed, among several other issues.

And speaking afterwards she said there was ‘no real need for this proposed academy’ and it would lead to an ‘over-supply of places for sixth form provision’.

But Rebecca Maxted, headteacher of the academy which is set to open in September, said the points raised were ‘wrong’.

She said Mrs Smith had not taken part in statutory consultation, the site had been procured by the Department for Education, HGVs would not be there as a haulage business was to move, and the site was ‘safe’.

There were a lack of options for students wanting to take academic A-levels so they could go to leading universities, she said, while the college is its own admissions authority and over 130 offers had been made to students so far, she added.

Ms Maxted said staff were ‘disappointed’ concerns had not been raised directly and added: “I think there is some political motivation.”