New Burngreave school is another step on the journey to area’s ‘better and brighter’ future

An artist impression of the completed Astrea Academy Sheffield , in Burngreave
An artist impression of the completed Astrea Academy Sheffield , in Burngreave

Part of the skyline in Burngreave has changed significantly over the last few months.

A new £25million school is being built in the area, transforming the old Pye Bank Primary School site and the area around it.

Astrea Academy Sheffield principal Kim Walton.

Astrea Academy Sheffield principal Kim Walton.

But as well as helping to breathe new educational life into the area; there has been a desperate need for a new school to meet a demand for places; it is being hailed as a great advertisement for what Burngreave represents to so many.

READ MORE: Sheffield school goes into lockdown after police incident

School leaders have stressed the school, which will cater for children from nursery through to sixth form when fully opened, is a community facility and not just for use by the pupils who attend but families and residents.

The school, Astrea Academy Sheffield, will help meet some of the need for vital community space, but is by no means an end to the transformation many are saying is happening in the area.

Burngreave resident Muna Abdi

Burngreave resident Muna Abdi

Burngreave has its fair share of bad headlines, said local councillor Mark Jones, but stressed those who live and work there are keen for these not to ‘define its future’.

He said the area was on a journey and the opening of a new urban park and the development of the old ski village were helping regeneration.

Coun Jones said: “Our community is not without it’s problems.

“Burngreave has had more than it’s fair share of bad headlines.

Burngreave councillor Mark Jones

Burngreave councillor Mark Jones

“However, this history does not limit nor define our future.

“The difficulties we have and currently face act to simply focus our minds on where we are and give us greater determination of where we want to go, what we want to be.

READ MORE: Sheffield entrepreneur launches his first computer science course at Tapton School

“The new school, as all schools do, represents hopes, dreams, possibilities.

Astrea Academy Sheffield principal Kim Walton with school trustee, Muna Abdi

Astrea Academy Sheffield principal Kim Walton with school trustee, Muna Abdi

“Burngreave is slowly, but determinedly moving to that brighter, better future and we will take everyone with us.”

Part of the new school opened in September after the old Pye Bank Primary School building was transformed.

A huge building across the road is being constructed and will house older pupils, including those of secondary school and sixth form age, and more importantly for the area – community facilities.

Executive principal Kim Walton has become a familiar face in the community since she was appointed in January, visiting schools, holding public meetings and information sessions.

“I have built up relationships with the people in the community and parents,” she said.

“It has been hard work but very rewarding. I have their trust and I feel they trust me.”

Astrea Academy Sheffield principal Kim Walton with school trustee, Muna Abdi

Astrea Academy Sheffield principal Kim Walton with school trustee, Muna Abdi

The design of the new building means part of the school can be closed off and remain open in the evenings and at weekends. There is also a dedicated community entrance.

Miss Walton is keen for organisations in the area – from lunch clubs and parent and toddler groups to faith groups – to use the space.

“It’s a community school and we want the community to use it,” she said.

““There is a space which will be ideal for proms, weddings, celebrations and other events.

“It’s all about giving back to the area.

“There is quite a bit of dedicated space, which can be shut off at night and at weekends so it can be used by the community after the school is closed.

“I have already been contacted by organisations wanting to use the space.

“This school is an integral part of the community and that has been the aim since day one.”

Muna Abdi has lived in Burngreave since she was two after coming  to Britain with her family as a Somalian refugee.

She said the community was unsure when the idea of a new school was first mooted, but are now ‘really excited’ for it.

“There is a lot of regeneration happening in places in the area and large parts which are being affected by funding cuts,” she said.

“People can see changes. On one side we have austerity and the other there is a multi-million pound school being built, so that took some getting used to.

“Everyone now recognises that it’s a school being built for the community.

“They are starting to see themselves being bale to use the space. There is nothing like it in the area.”

Dr Adbi, a lecturer and educational consultant, said groups in the area were crying out for a space that is an ‘education venue’ after many of the area’s youth clubs were closed down.

She added: “Although every community has a building where they congregate, there isn’t a Burngreave Community Centre as such which brings people together, so having a place that people can use for free or a little cost will definitely be an incentive.” 

Dr Abdi said that there was lots of groups doing things at grassroots level in the area, including Pitsmoor Adventure Playground, Burngreave Messenger, and Elsmere Nursery, but felt bigger organisations who work in the area needed to visit and speak to residents and community leaders – like the school has – to see how they can best serve it.

Coun Jones said despite recent headlines, family and children remain at the heart of the Burngreave community.

He said: “The new school dominates the city skyline as you look to Burngreave.

“It is a great advertisement of what Burngreave represents to so many.

“Family, and children are at the centre of our great community and this school is yet another investment in our families and our youth.

“But this school is not the end of the road, just another step in the journey of where Burngreave is going.

“From redeveloping the old ski village, to opening up the urban country park on the site of the old landfill site, what people see when they look to Burngreave is a great place to live with a great future.”