New £30 million grammar school plan for Sleaford

An artist's  impression of how the new grammar school site may look. EMN-171102-222445001 EMN-171102-222445001

An artist's impression of how the new grammar school site may look. EMN-171102-222445001 EMN-171102-222445001

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A detailed vision for a co-educational selective grammar school on a new, single site on the outskirts of Sleaford has been revealed.

The Robert Carre Multi-Academy Trust, which currently comprises Carre’s Grammar School and Kesteven and Sleaford High School, unveiled its concept plans for the new school to North Kesteven district councillors at a pre-application panel presentation on Friday.

A map layout of the school design. EMN-171102-222433001 EMN-171102-222433001

A map layout of the school design. EMN-171102-222433001 EMN-171102-222433001

The £30 million project would see both schools relocate to a new, 45 acre, campus-style site on agricultural land currently owned by Rauceby Estates to the west of the A15 and north of Drove Lane.

It would serve 1,600 students, with another 20 acres available to increase capacity to 1,800 in view of the expected growth.

It would be accessed off a new roundabout from the A15 already proposed to serve the urban extension to the north west of the town. With 70 per cent of pupils already travelling in by bus, it is argued town centre congestion would be improved and walking and cycling routes would be developed to maintain links to the St George’s Academy for the joint sixth form.

The site would also comprise football, cricket and rugby pitches and an athletics track. There would be a large main hall/lecture theatre, indoor sports hall/fitness studios and a wetland/sports lake area.

Headteacher Nick Law explained the current school sites are split with a third site for extra sports pitches at Governor’s Field, where they are constrained for space with limited scope for expansion.

He says they would like to have the school completed within five years if funding can be found – currently the main stumbling block.

Assistant headteacher Andy Wilkinson has been instrumental in the planning so far too. He said: “Our current sports facilities are for community use and we want to do everything bigger and better if we get the opportunity to move.”

Mr Law said: “This is our aspiration. We will explore every avenue to gain the funds.”

He said meetings are planned in the next month-or-so with the Department for Education and the Minister for Education, Nick Gibb. Mr Law said they have also been in discussions all along with the county and district councils.

He added: “The DfE are particularly interested in our project as we are becoming more outward-looking, fitting in with their current agenda to expand the grammar school system and we want to seize that opportunity and government funding earmarked to expand existing grammar schools over the next four years to encourage social mobility. Grammar schools have changed admissions policies to encourage that, and we are delivering in the top echelons of schools.”

To that end, they are currently negotiating with some primary schools to join the multi-academy trust to assist with administrative support.

The trust plans to do a similar presentation to the Town Council and open it out to wider public consultation by the end of March. Businesses may also be approached for project sponsorship.

Mr Law said: “I hope people come and talk to us about how they feel about this. I am confident, if we can get the money, it is absolutely the right thing for this town.”

The current sites would be sold off, but Mr Law reassured parents: “In the meantime we still need to keep these sites as good as they can be, securing the futures of students while securing the education for a future generation.

“The old part of Carre’s is listed but it could be rented out as offices. The High School’s Jermyn Street site lends itself easier to housing while Carre’s could be more retail and housing.”