Story : Ian Clifford
The Council has just revealed plans to expand four schools in Burngreave and Fir Vale to cope with increased numbers of children. St Catherine’s and Pye Bank schools would double in size, from one class of 30 in each year group to two classes. In Fir Vale, both Owler Brook and Whiteways would change to taking both infant and junior children, with two classes of 30 children in each year group.
The Messenger asked the Council’s Director of Children’s Services, Jonathan Crossley-Holland whether this would be sufficient or whether a whole new school was needed. Jonathan said that the Council’s Cabinet had considered this, but there was no land to build a new school and because the demand for school places was from both Burngreave and Fir Vale, a new school would inevitably be far away for some.
Jonathan admitted that earlier estimates of pupil numbers when the present Pye Bank school was built a few years ago were wrong, but pointed out that Burngreave had a 17% rise in pupil numbers in Burngreave recently. Jonathan claimed that “the amalgamated Pye Bank School was built in such a way that it would be easy to expand.”
When the Messenger pointed out that two of the schools being expanded were church schools and asked about parents of no faith or different faiths, Jonathan said:
“Our soundings show that Muslim parents are not unhappy about sending their children to a faith school since respect for spirituality is something they value, as long as the school shows respect for their particular faith by providing prayer rooms etc. Without pre-empting the consultation, that seems to be the view of Muslim parents across the city and nationally.”
Referring to Pye Bank School, Jonathan said:
“Making sure that Pye Bank offers high quality education is important whatever size it is. I can assure local residents that the Local Authority and the Diocese are working extremely closely together to solve the standards issues. We share the view of residents that standards are not high enough and are confident we will see improvements.”
Schools Expansion Consultation meetings – Special meetings have been arranged to explain to parents the proposed expansion of four local primary schools in Burngreave, Pitsmoor and Fir Vale and to hear what you think. Try and make sure you get along to them, to ask questions, and have your say.
Jonathan Crossley-Holland interview – Web exclusive: Transcript of the interview with Jonathan Crossley-Holland, Executive Director of the Council’s Children and Young People’s Directorate, about the new plan to create more school places in Burngreave and Fir Vale, about attainment in the City and about new developments around Specialist Children’s Services (Social Services) and Service Districts.