Options revealed for increasing secondary school places in North Fringe

Photo of the main entrance to Patchway Community School.
Patchway Community School.

The need to cater for a massive increase in expected demand for secondary school places in the Bristol North Fringe over the coming years looks set to see the building of a brand new school, the extensive redevelopment of an existing school and an increase in the intake of a third.

A report tabled at a meeting of South Gloucestershire Council’s Cabinet on 5th October estimates that 2,476 additional places (15.6 forms of entry) will be needed in the area, principally to accommodate demand from new neighbourhoods that are included in the council’s approved strategic plans. These include developments of 5,400 homes at Cribbs Patchway, 2,675 at Filton Airfield, as well as Wallscourt Farm, Frenchay, East of Harry Stoke and the continuing development of Charlton Hayes.

Artist's impression of Filton Airfield redevelopment.
Artist’s impression of the Filton Airfield redevelopment.

South Gloucestershire Council secured land and £21 million from developer YTL under planning conditions for a school at Brabazon, the new neighbourhood on Filton Airfield, with the original aim to have 1,050 secondary students (seven-form entry) from 2027. However, newly identified site reconfiguration opportunities could allow the secondary school’s capacity to be increased to 10-form entry with a 300-place sixth form.

The report says the new options would cost between £71.1 million for an all-through school with a two-form entry primary and eight-form secondary with no sixth form to £90.9 million for a two-form entry primary, 10-form entry secondary school and a 300-place sixth form.

In addition to the new school at Brabazon, the report also outlines the potential for “redeveloping” Patchway Community School, which currently provides 900 places for 11-18 year olds. A redevelopment of the school would provide a new building on the existing site, with the existing school remaining operational while construction takes place.

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The cost of replacing the Patchway school ranges from £50.6 million for an eight-form entry school with no sixth form to £71.7 million for an all-through school with a 60-place nursery, 420-pupil primary and 1,200-student secondary.

According to the report, “the strategic need for places” indicates that both site options (Brabazon and Patchway) would need to be delivered in order to secure sufficient secondary school provision across the North Fringe.

The report notes that a third site, Abbeywood Community School in Stoke Gifford, has already been earmarked for future expansion to accommodate some of the 360 secondary-age children expected to be yielded from the 2,000 home development at East of Harry Stoke. Total developer contributions from this site are estimated at £5.1 million and the Olympus Academy Trust (OAT) has agreed “in principle” to increase Abbeywood‘s capacity by two forms of entry. A separate scoping exercise to expand the existing accommodation at Abbeywood has been completed by the council and is currently with OAT for comment.

Photo of Dave Baker.
Dave Baker, CEO of the Olympus Academy Trust.

Following a decision to further progress the studies and “develop the detail of potential schemes and options”, Olympus CEO Dave Baker said:

“We are delighted that Cabinet members approved moving forward with the proposals. We look forward to working with South Gloucestershire Council and YTL, developers of the Brabazon site, on these projects.”

The next steps will include engagement with local partners, including council members and parents/carers, and assessing funding opportunities.

Discussions will be held with the planning department on the planning context, constraints and process moving forward.

More information: Agenda and reports for SGC Cabinet meeting on 5th October 2020 (item 8 refers)

This article originally appeared in the November/December 2020 issue of the Bradley Stoke Journal magazine (on pages 8 & 9). The magazine is delivered FREE, nine times a year, to ALL 8,700 homes in Bradley Stoke. Phone 01454 300 400 to enquire about advertising or leaflet insertion.