Rotherham school given go ahead for expansion after 11-year wait for redevelopment

An oversubscribed Rotherham school that was forced to shelve redevelopment plans over a decade ago is looking to the future after being given the green light to expand thanks to funding.

Tuesday, 5th February 2019, 14:37 pm
Updated Thursday, 7th February 2019, 16:44 pm
Dominic Curran, principal of Aston Academy, outside the school, which is set to benefit from a 4.5m grant from Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council to expand its capacity

Students at Aston Academy, in Aughton Road, have had their PE lessons in the temporary structure ever since it was installed at the site alongside four classrooms in 2008 ahead of a planned redevelopment scheme.

The structures replaced school buildings that were demolished to make way for the Aston-cum-Aughton Leisure Centre, whose opening in the same year also made the neighbouring Charles T Broughton swimming pool redundant.

Aston Academy in Swallownest

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Designed as interim measures, the original plan was to replace the entire school with a state-of-the-art building as part of the last Labour governments Building Schools for the Future scheme.

However, the plan was later shelved when the coalition government scrapped the BSF project in 2010. 

The school building has since been maintained with money from the Department for Education and is currently half way through a project to refurbish its four science labs.

Now, it has been granted £4.5 million of funding from Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council to have the swimming pool building converted and bring the sports facilities back under a permanent roof.

The refurbishment will also enable the school to accommodate a further 150 students beyond its current capacity of 1,700.

The council – which received money from the Government – approved the funding in response to increasing numbers of applications and ahead of extra demand likely to be caused by the expansion of two feeder schools along with the opening of Waverley Junior Academy next September.

Aston Academy is part of the Aston Community Education Trust, which also supports 11 others schools in the area.

Eunice Newton, chief executive of the Trust and former headteacher of Aston Academy, said: “These new plans will have a huge impact on the quality of the learning environment for our young people and staff.

“The plans under BSF promised to provide the students and staff with a completely new, state of the art building, only for them to be unexpectedly and abruptly withdrawn, leaving governors with the prospect of managing an ageing building, with the added complication of having to teach in temporary accommodation.

“We are looking forward to working with RMBC officers to make at least part of the BSF dream a reality.”

Dominic Curran, principal of Aston Academy, said: “We’re a very successful school and while it’s wonderful to be oversubscribed, it’s frustrating for us not to be able to meet the needs of all the families who want to send their children to us.

“We’re delighted therefore that the council has agreed to fund expansion work that will allow us to grow and enable more students to learn here and share in our success.

“It’s early days so we haven’t seen the plans, but this building work is long overdue and we will be very happy to see our temporary classrooms replaced with facilities that are modern and more conducive to learning at long last.”