South Gloucestershire MPs, Luke Hall and Chris Skidmore, have met with the Secretary of State for Education, to secure assurances that the development of Lyde Green Secondary School will continue to receive support.
The meeting follows the recent news that the timescales for the completion and delivery of the brand new secondary school would be impacted, due to the COVID-19 pandemic and complications with the construction of the new school. Together with Leader of South Gloucestershire Council, Cllr Toby Savage, and Cllr Erica Williams, the Cabinet member for Education, Skills & Employment, Luke and Chris secured a meeting with the Rt Hon Nadhim Zahawi, the Education Secretary, to discuss the challenges facing the project and what further support the Department for Education could offer to get this important project over the line.
With the support from Lyde Green’s local MPs, South Gloucestershire Council previously secured agreement to build a new secondary school for Lyde Green, under the Wave 14 Free School programme. The original plan was to deliver temporary accommodation at another local school site, whilst the build of the new school took place.
With important work and key milestones still to overcome, South Gloucestershire Council have announced that the opening of the school will be delayed, with parents being able to review their children’s school preferences for the upcoming academic year. The meeting with the Secretary of State saw the MPs reiterate their commitment to delivering this project for families in South Gloucestershire, and was an opportunity to discuss with the Secretary of State how the design and build of the school can now progress as swiftly as possible.
Following the meeting, the Secretary of State stated, “I know how committed Luke and Chris are to delivering this new secondary school in South Gloucestershire and the Department for Education will continue to offer support to South Gloucestershire Council to achieve this. There is no obstacle that we cannot overcome and we will continue to support this vital project for the Lyde Green community”.
Luke Hall MP said, “We understand how disappointed parents and children embarking upon their next school chapter will be, however I am clear that we must see this through and make sure the new school is built as soon as possible.”
“Opening a new secondary school in Lyde Green has been longstanding and crucial part of our Positive Plan for Education in South Gloucestershire. As a community, we campaigned tirelessly to secure the Government’s support to build the new school, and now we need to work with South Gloucestershire Council to get on and start building”
Chris Skidmore MP added, “Having secured a debate in Parliament that directly led to the approval for multi-million pound funding for this school, I had hoped that the school would be in place for the first school leavers from Lyde Green Primary School. I am devastated that this will not be the case due to these further delays and issues over the building costs.
“Everything was in place, and as the local MP, I want parents to know that myself and Luke Hall are doing all we can to get this sorted at the highest level of government. We are grateful to the Secretary of State for meeting with us to discuss a positive way forward on this issue.”
“We all recognise there is a clear need for action and the Department for Education continues to offer support to achieve this - a solution must be found and a way forward established ASAP."
Cllr Erica Williams, Cabinet Member for Education, Skills and Employment, said: “Improving school standards across South Gloucestershire remains the Council’s number one priority and this very much applies to the community of Lyde Green.”
“We are continuing to work with the Regional Schools Commissioner’s Office and The Olympus Academy Trust to finalise the plans and funding arrangements to deliver the school and every effort is being made so that we can confirm the earliest completion and opening date.”
Cllr Rachael Hunt, who represents the Emersons Green Ward, said: “The setback in delivering this school has been a massive frustration for local people after it all looked ready to go and I am really appreciative to our MPs and the Council for making the case to the Government. We are keen to see this resolved and for local children to get the quality learning environment they deserve.”