Burnley secondary school expansions confirmed

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Two secondary schools in Burnley will be extended to help plug a shortfall in pupil places in the borough.

Lancashire County Council’s cabinet has given the go-ahead to expand Shuttleworth College and Unity College, so that they each take on an additional 30 pupils per year from September 2020.

An extension to Unity College will be completed by September 2021

An extension to Unity College will be completed by September 2021

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The move follows the closure of Hameldon Community College, which forced the authority to step in to ensure that there was sufficient secondary school capacity in the area.

Both Shuttleworth and Unity had already agreed to one-year increases in their intake for 2019/20, but cabinet members were told that there would be an annual shortfall of up to 75 secondary places in Burnley from the following academic year.

“There is also pressure on secondary places across neighbouring areas, so we can’t expect pupils to move into schools [out of the borough] or rely on Burnley schools to expand temporarily – that isn’t a sensible way forward,” said County Cllr Phillippa Williamson, cabinet member for schools.

The two colleges will now be physically extended so that they can accommodate their growing rollcall of pupils. The cost of the building work will be met through the council’s basic needs allocation for schools – but full details were discussed only in a private session of the cabinet meeting.

Shuttleworth College will get a "modular" extension to be completed by September 2020

Shuttleworth College will get a "modular" extension to be completed by September 2020

Papers presented to members describe the timeframe for the projects as “extremely challenging”. The Shuttleworth extension will be a modular design which allows it to be constructed more quickly than a traditional building.

However, such is the complexity of the work required at Unity – including specialist classrooms and an extension of the existing building – that it will not be completed until September 2021. A temporary double classroom will be used for twelve months beforehand.

The meeting heard that every school in Burnley had been contacted about the possibility of expanding. Shuttleworth and Unity were selected because they both expressed an interest and because Unity had an OFSTED rating of ‘good’, while Shuttleworth – although rated as ‘requires improvement’ – was making “good progress and increasing in popularity”.