Thursday 17 December 2015

THE enormous number of responses to a consultation over plans to increase school places has been welcomed by Sheffield city leaders, who will now take more time to ensure they reach the right decision.

Sheffield City Council has received over 1,400 responses – one of the biggest ever given to a council consultation – after asking for comments over plans to build two new secondary schools and to reorganise some primary school places in the south west and north east of the city to meet acute local population needs.

Now the council’s collective Cabinet will make their decision on February 17, which will allow adequate time for them to go through all the responses ahead of this date.

Already more time was given to the consultation, which ended last month, to allow more options to be submitted by interested parties.

Councillor Jackie Drayton, Sheffield City Council’s Cabinet Member for Children, Young People and Families said: “I really want to thank people for taking the time to come forward with their responses and to thank people who attended the workshops and meetings held about this issue. We have been delighted by the overwhelming response we have had and we want to make sure we do justice to what people are telling us they want.

“However, as a result of extending the consultation and the number of responses that we have had, we now feel that instead of taking the decision at January Cabinet as originally planned, we need more time to review all options and have moved the decision to our February Cabinet. We feel that this will allow us to ensure that we have explored and fully considered all the options.

“We want to reassure you that moving the decision to February still allows us to create the places we need in September and more importantly gives us the opportunity to review the consultation responses to allow us to reach the right decision. We do not want to rush any decision on such an important issue.”
She added the council is committed to creating outstanding local school places whilst also meeting its aspirations for affordable housing, maintained green spaces and addressing traffic congestions and air pollution.

THE PROCESS GOING FORWARD:

• Only once cabinet has taken a decision in February and should a new school or schools be built, would the council begin the process to commission sponsorship for these schools. All new schools have to be run by an academy and cannot be under local authority control.
• A formal process has to be followed in choosing the right sponsor to run such an academy.
• Once a new sponsor was in place, there would be a further public consultation process for admission arrangements and any proposed catchment changes would be part of this wider discussion.