Councillors welcome plans to build a brand new high school in central Manchester to meet the increasing demand for places.
The proposals were agreed by the council's executive last week. The need for a new school is on the back of a significant rise in the number of families living and working in the city. With a population of now well over 500,000 people, Manchester is the fastest growing city in the UK.
Over the last six years, more than 1,400 extra primary school places have been put into the system, and this year an additional 117 high school places were created at existing schools to meet increased demand for the current academic year, with a further 240 places being put into high schools for next September.
But it's clear however that even more places are going to be needed in the future.
In the short term it's already apparent that there is an urgent need to create a significant number of additional secondary school places in the central / south part of the city, with an estimated shortfall of at least 135 places expected by 2016 if no action is taken.
In order to address this the site of the former Daisy Mill in Ardwick has been identified as an ideal location for a brand new secondary school. It is situated next to an existing primary school, the Ardwick Sports Centre, and a 20 place secondary Pupil Referral Unit - all of which it is thought could be brought together to establish an 'education campus' with shared use of facilities.
Department for Education regulations around local authorities opening new schools themselves mean that the proposed new school would have to be either an academy or a free school. Although the local authority could not open the school itself, it would be able to state its preferred provider of the new school, with the final decision being made by the Secretary of State for Education.
Given the number of single sex and faith schools already in the central south area, councillors are being asked to support in principle the establishment of a non faith mixed high school on the site. The suggested size of the new build school would be a 1,200 place eight form entry school, with 240 pupils per year group and it's thought that the new school could open to pupils as early as September 2016.
Cllr Kevin Peel said:
"With a growing number of families in the city centre the need for this school is clear. We fought to ensure that New Islington primary school in Ancoats which opened last year would include the city centre in its catchment area and we're delighted that there are now plans for a high school in central Manchester."
In order to meet the educational challenges this rapidly rising population brings, the council is now looking much further ahead and is developing a 10 to 15 year school place planning strategy to ensure that future demand can be met.
A four week consultation period will begin on 6 October to gather local views on the plans.