Plans for new free school for excluded children in St Giles

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A new free school for excluded children who would otherwise not receive suitable education could be built on the St Giles estate in Lincoln.

City of Lincoln Council’s Planning Committee will decide on proposals submitted by the Wellspring Academy Trust for an ‘alternative provision’ school on land off Macaulay Drive, next to The Myle Cross Centre.

An alternative provision school is a type of free school defined by the Department for Education as “education arranged by local authorities for pupils who, because of exclusion, illness or other reasons, would not otherwise receive suitable education”.

It includes education arranged by schools for pupils on a fixed period exclusion and students “being directed” to off-campus provision to improve their behaviour.

The school would be based off Macaulay Drive

Wellspring Academy Trust currently operates 11 alternative provision schools across Yorkshire and Humberside.

The trust became the sponsor of Lincolnshire’s only pupil referral unit (Springwell Lincoln City Academy) in April 2017, a unit which covers the whole of the county.

Wellspring wants to redesign alternative provision education in the county by creating smaller hubs in new or refurbished buildings, such as in the application here.

Other plans are in place for hubs in Grantham, Mablethorpe and Spalding.

It would be next to The Myle Cross Centre

The new two-storey building of a similar size to The Myle Cross Centre would see teaching facilities, food and drink areas, music rooms, a fitness suite, and a main hall.

A multi-use games area would be created for children outside.

Thirty members of staff would be employed to teach 63 children between the ages of five and 16.

School would start at 8.45am and finish at 2.45pm, except on Fridays when it would close at 1pm.

Children would stay on the school grounds throughout the day, including lunch breaks.

Access to the school would be from Macaulay Drive.

Up to 63 pupils would be taught at the school

Former Green Party city council candidate Norman Haigh has raised some concerns about the proposal.

He said: “The estate has been very peaceful in recent years mainly thanks to the excellent policing team, council staff and volunteers based at the neighbourhood centre on Swift Gardens. But owing to recent cuts to council budgets, the neighbourhood centre finally closed its doors at the end of 2017.

“It would be regrettable if the character and status of the estate was damaged again if an unwelcome incident were to happen at the new school just as the supporting social structures of the community have been weakened by austerity cuts, particularly if the school became widely known as the ‘St Giles sin bin’.”

Councillors have been recommended to give the proposals the go-ahead at a meeting of the Planning Committee in Lincoln on Thursday, March 22.