£5 million funding now in place to increase numbers at Abbeywood Community School

January 02 2022
£5 million funding now in place to increase numbers at Abbeywood Community School

Abbeywood Community School could be welcoming 240 new Year 7s permanently from 2023.

Abbeywood Community School could be welcoming 240 new Year 7s permanently from 2023.

South Glos Council is making available £5 million which would lead to an overall expansion in the next five years of 300 students.

Leaders at the Olympus Academy Trust school say the expansion must be done without undermining the current 'brilliant' building.

They are now working with architects on creating plans, with three potential options under discussion:

  • A new block of classrooms
  • Conversion of the sports hall to classrooms and build a new sports hall
  • Add classrooms to current corridors

Olympus chief executive Dave Baker, pictured,  told Filtonvoice he welcomed the 'positive' news but said it was important the right plan was in place before trustees would sign off the expansion.

The school managed to create an extra 30 places for this year's Year 7 intake, with a further 60 for 2022-23, by utilising space in the neighbouring Bristol Technology and Engineering Academy for some post 16 lessons, as it is now running in conjunction with Abbeywood.

If the expansion goes ahead as planned, successive Year 7s will also have 240 students on the roll until each year group from 7-11 has 240.

This follows discussions between the Council’s Conservative administration and Olympus to increase from six-form entry to eight-form entry in order to meet the local demand for secondary school places as more new homes continue to be built in the area.

The proposed expansion comes as part of a record £78 million capital investment by South Gloucestershire Council towards building new schools and maintaining and improving existing buildings across the district.

Work has commenced to develop the scheme with the aim to have the new places available for the 2023/24 academic year.

Mr Baker said: "I am heartened to see the aim of this being in place by the 2023-24 year but our trustees will only agree to this once the right plans are agreed.

"The news is all positive and we now need to see what the £5 million will create as the school, while in a good financial position, is not sitting on large sums of money.

"More students will bring in more revenue but we will also need to employ more teachers."

Mr Baker said he thought the plans would particularly help families in Cheswick's 'no man's land' near the Bristol border who have been struggling to find school places due to high demand.

Cllr Erica Williams, Cabinet Member for Education, Skills and Employment, said: “I am delighted that we are set to continue our record investment into local schools with these proposals to expand Abbeywood Community School. Raising school standards is the council’s number one priority and it is great that we are in a position to help the school grow alongside the communities it serves to provide local children with quality learning environments to give them the best start to their school life.”

Cllrs Brian Allinson, Ernie Brown and Keith Cranney, who represent the Stoke Gifford ward, said: “With our local communities continuing to grow and more families coming to the area, there is a greater need than ever to have enough places in schools like Abbeywood. We have continued to press the Council for more investment into the services that local people need and are delighted that the Administration has listened. 

"We look forward to seeing the school’s expansion completed.”