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The Corporation

Posted: 16/06/10

September 2011 academy opening confirmed

Plans to re-open Sutton Centre Community College as an academy have been postponed until later next year, it has been announced.

West Nottinghamshire College and Nottinghamshire County Council, who are backing the ambitious proposals to transform secondary education in the town, said the decision to defer the planned January 2011 opening was necessary to allow issues around the proposed site of a new academy building to be resolved.

Residents have objected to the county council’s proposals to replace the school with a state-of-the-art academy building, incorporating the latest technology and equipment, on part of the school’s playing fields at Garden Lane, Sutton-in-Ashfield.

The council says the advantages of this site include good transport and pedestrian access, the opportunity to enhance the approach to the nearby Sutton Lawn Pleasure Grounds, and allowing the school to remain at the heart of the community.  One of the biggest advantages to the site would be the provision of attached playing fields; something not possible at the current school. 

Those against the plans have also submitted an application for village green status which, if successful, could further delay development.

Consequently, the opening of Sutton Community Academy has been postponed until September 2011 to enable residents’ views to be considered further.  It would initially open in the existing Sutton Centre buildings in High Pavement, as planned, before transferring to the new building.

West Nottinghamshire College principal and chief executive, Asha Khemka OBE, said there were several advantages to taking on academy status at the start of a new school year.  She insisted September was a better time to make changes to the school’s curriculum, which would give pupils and teaching staff a smoother transition.

Mrs Khemka said: “We remain fully committed to working with Sutton Centre, Nottinghamshire County Council and the Department for Education to bring these exciting plans to fruition.

“Following discussions, however, it has been decided to put the opening back until September 2011 so that the location of the new building can be addressed.”

However, Mrs Khemka warned that unless a site could be found, the academy might not open at all, since neither the college nor county council considered the existing High Pavement site to be suitable for redevelopment.

She added: “All parties are keen to ensure we work with the community to find the most suitable site.  Sutton Community Academy will provide people in Sutton with the very best, life-enhancing educational opportunities for generations to come, so it’s vital to the town’s future prosperity that these plans go ahead.”

Councillor Philip Owen, cabinet member for children and young people’s services at Nottinghamshire County Council said: “We continue to be committed to working with our partners to provide a modern, state-of-the-art building, fit for 21st century learning. Building a new academy would enable us to accomplish this and we want to make the most of this opportunity.

“Where there are concerns from the local community around the location of the new academy, we will seek to resolve them.”

West Nottinghamshire College will be the academy’s lead sponsor, with the county council acting as co-sponsor. The college’s public consultation in December 2009 revealed strong support for the proposals, on condition that the academy could be established in a new building.

During the 2010-11 academic year Sutton Centre Community College will continue to build on recent improvements and successes in exam results, and prepare for its transition to the new academy with the ongoing support of West Nottinghamshire College and the local authority.