New Rotherham school opening delayed due to coronavirus outbreak

A new primary academy due to open in September 2020 looks unlikely to open on time, after the coronavirus pandemic put a hold on construction.

Friday, 15th May 2020, 11:15 am

Prior to the pandemic, the new Waverley Junior Academy was scheduled to be completed and handed over to Aston Community Education Trust at the end of July.

However, although construction work is continuing on the site where social distancing is observed, the school now looks likely to be opened in October instead.

Children who were due to attend the new school will instead begin the school year at nearby Thurcroft School, where they will be taught separately to Thurcoft pupils by their own teachers, and will will have separate breaks from the existing pupils.

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Rotherham Council

The two schools will run as two separate academies within the same building.

A joint statement from the trust and Rotherham Council states: “It is difficult to give precise timelines for the build project to be completed as this will depend on government guidance and the removal of lockdown restrictions.

“Work is continuing on site presently where social distancing can be observed. There could also be supply chain issues as a result of the current situation hence, the local authority is working on the builders’ current assumptions that the school building will be handed over in October.

“It is difficult to give precise details at this time as any relaxing of restrictions would be directed by central government.”

At a meeting of Waverley Community Council, Kate Stark, interim governor for the school, read a statement to councillors on behalf of the ACET team.

It stated: “It’s with great disappointment that we have to advise you that as a consequence of the introduction of the lockdown procedures introduced by the government in response to Covid-19 pandemic, building work at the junior academy site was interrupted at the end of March.

“Extension of the lockdown clearly has increased likelihood that the academy will not be ready to be handed over to ACET on August 1t, ready for a September 1 opening, so it’s prudent that we develop the contingency plan.

“Working with colleagues at Rotherham Council, and with the approval of of the Department for Education, ACET is making arrangements to accommodate children from FS2 to Year 6 in another of their academy buildings at Thurcroft, where there will be classrooms for every group of pupils and their teachers.

“Our staff will be ready to deliver the same induction and learning activities they have planned. Waverley children will enjoy assemblies together and socialise together in accordance with guidelines at the time.

“Unfortunately we would not be able to deliver after-school provision for the children until they move into the Waverley Building.

“The local authority will commissioning buses and coaches to transport the children between Waverley and Thurcroft, on a daily basis.

“The council’s admissions team has written to parents and carers of all students who have been conditionally allocated a place, advising them of the situation and the options which are open to them.

“We cannot provide any further details at this stage, because, like the rest of the country, we are waiting on the government's announcement about the lifting of lockdown procedures.”

So far, 58 children have been offered a place in Reception/FS2 for September 2020 at Waverley.

Children in Years 1 to 6 have the option of remaining in their current school settings until the Waverley building is completed.