Former sixth form building to be repurposed as councillors agree to provide extra school places in Burnley
Extra places are due to be provided at schools in Burnley following decisions agreed by Lancashire County Council's cabinet.
Councillors considered two reports about school places in the town at their meeting yesterday.
The first report outlined proposals for a temporary increase in the number of students admitted to Blessed Trinity RC College, from 250 to 280, and Burnley High School, from 120 to 130 places for the 2021/22 academic year.
There is a need to create extra places for one year only due to a large number of primary school year groups moving through to secondary schools, and the loss of secondary school places in Burnley due to the closure of Hameldon Community College.
The cabinet agreed to the increase in admissions, along with proposals for improvements to facilities at both schools to accommodate the extra students.
At Blessed Trinity Roman Catholic College an existing ICT room will be refurbished and additional ICT equipment provided to allow the school to adjust the curriculum to teach the additional cohort of students as they move through the school.
At Burnley High School there is a need to provide additional classrooms to accommodate the extra students. A proposal was agreed to create five new class spaces by using partition walls to convert an open-plan seminar space previously used by the school's former sixth-form.
A second report outlined the first phase of a review to make good use of the accommodation at Burnley Campus previously used by the closed Thomas Whitham Sixth Form. The campus is home to a number of education and community services.
Cabinet was asked to approve improvements and developments to a number of these services making use of the buildings previously occupied by the sixth form.
There is a need to provide 30 additional primary school places for the 2021/22 academic year within Burnley, and councillors agreed a proposal to meet this through the temporary addition of an extra form of entry at Barden Primary School for one year only.
There is also a need to provide additional places for children with special educational needs in Burnley, with Holly Grove Primary School currently being oversubscribed.
The report outlined proposals for a number of changes to how services are accommodated at Burnley Campus to allow a SEN unit to be established at Barden Primary School, and create room for additional places at Holly Grove Special School in future, subject to cabinet approval.
The changes agreed by cabinet are as follows:
• Move Reedley Hallows Nursery School from its existing location into the former Thomas Whitham Sixth Form accommodation, and provide a new outdoor play area.
• Relocate Reedley Hallows Children and Family Wellbeing Services into the former Thomas Whitham building.
• Use the accommodation previously occupied by the nursery and children's centre to allow the expansion of Holly Grove Special School.
• Provide additional accommodation and internal work to Barden Primary School to allow the addition of a one-year 'bulge' class of 30 in 2021/22 only.
• Provide additional accommodation to Barden Primary School to allow the addition of a special educational needs unit within the former Thomas Whitham accommodation.
The review into accommodation at Burnley Campus will be ongoing to identify the best use for the remining space at the former Thomas Whitham Sixth Form.
County Councillor Phillippa Williamson, cabinet member for children, young people and schools, said: "The county council is responsible for making sure that there are enough school places to meet demand, and we are constantly reviewing changing demographic factors to make sure that we have the right number of school places throughout the county.
"The improvements agreed by cabinet will allow Blessed Trinity Roman Catholic College and Burnley High School to increase their intake for the next academic year only to accommodate the families of children moving into the town at the moment, and the loss of places due to the closure of Hameldon Community College.
"There is also a need to create extra primary school and special educational needs places in Burnley, and I'm pleased that we'll also be investing in Burnley Campus to make the best use of the accommodation across the site to allow services to develop and meet the needs of the local community."
Edwina Grant OBE, executive director of education and children's services, added: "The number of school places needed across Lancashire is always evolving, and I'm grateful to our schools for working so closely and collaboratively with us to plan ahead, and develop their accommodation to provide extra places where needed.
"One of the key aims of our strategy for children with Special Educational Needs is to ensure that all pupils with Education Health and Care Plans have access to mainstream education, and I'm particularly grateful for all the hard work that has gone into these proposals to provide more places at Burnley Campus."