Councillors are being asked to approve a £20m rebuild of a County Durham school which would enhance standards of education for students.
Durham County Council’s Cabinet will next week be recommended to agree to the redevelopment of Greenfield Community College’s Newton Aycliffe site.
Councillors will also be asked to approve the permanent closure of the school’s Sunnydale site at Shildon, following the decision to temporarily close it in 2020 on health and safety grounds and after almost 60 per cent of respondents to consultation supported the proposals.
The meeting, next Wednesday 6 April, will be reminded how, following an Ofsted inspection judgement of ‘inadequate’, Sunnydale School in Shildon was amalgamated with Greenfield School at Newton Aycliffe. Greenfield School was enlarged at the beginning of 2015 to become Greenfield Community College, with Sunnydale closing as a separate school.
Education was initially delivered across both sites, but this did not address the underlying challenges evident before the amalgamation. The split-site approach limited the delivery of a broad curriculum, impacting on standards while pupil numbers continued to fall.
Council officers subsequently considered options for improved educational provision. They acted in response to falling pupil numbers impacting on standards and financial viability of the school across two sites, and significant site condition issues. The options appraisal also followed Ofsted inspections and Department for Education advisers identifying the split-site arrangement as inhibiting educational improvement and progress.
A report to Cabinet last October set out how, of four options considered, making the current temporary arrangements permanent and consulting on closure of the Sunnydale site was considered by officers to be “the most compelling in terms of all factors – enhanced standards, minimal disruption to learning, improvement of accommodation and cost efficiency.”
The report told councillors that the decision to locate all pupils at Greenfield temporarily had allowed for a better standard of education and how a recent Ofsted monitoring visit had reflected the improvements arising from moving to single-site provision.
Councillors were also told that it would cost around £20m to remodel the Aycliffe site to accommodate all pupils in an improved educational environment, and that funding would be sought either through the National Schools Rebuilding Programme or the council’s Medium Term Financial Plan.
Cabinet approved the recommendation to that meeting, that consultation be carried out on the permanent closure of Sunnydale and the redevelopment of the Newton Aycliffe site.
A report to the meeting next week sets out how 59.1 per cent of respondents (666 of 1,127) to that consultation either strongly agreed (467 people and 41.4 per cent of respondents) or agreed (199 and 17.7 per cent.) A further 8.4 per cent neither agreed or disagreed.
Following publication of a statutory notice of closure, further consultation took place during which 14 responses were received, with 12 of these in support.
Cabinet will be asked to agree to the redevelopment of the Newton Ayclife site and the closure of the Sunnydale site from 31 August this year.