Refurbishment plan for six Yorkshire schools taken over by collapsed WCAT academy chain

Children at Outwood Primary Academy Park Hill.
Children at Outwood Primary Academy Park Hill.

An academy chain which has taken over six primary and secondary schools after the collapse of a Yorkshire trust has revealed plans for refurbishment projects to improve facilities for students.

Outwood Grange Academies Trust (OGAT) told The Yorkshire Post it was confident it could raise educational standards at the schools, formerly part of the beleaguered Wakefield City Academy Trust (WCAT), as it announced it had secured funding for the revamps.

The trust, which now runs 31 academies across Yorkshire, Derbyshire and the North East, has taken on the schools, all in the Wakefield district, since WCAT’s collapse, with the final one officially transferring over a week ago, on July 1.

It did not reveal how much the refurbishment projects would cost but said it had been able to secure “a significant amount of capital funding” from the Government for all six of them.

It said the cash would be used for a new three-storey building at Outwood Academy Hemsworth, to house a hall, restaurant, kitchens, classrooms and performing arts space.

Money would also be spent on new buildings at Outwood Academy City Fields - formerly Wakefield City Academy - to accommodate a planned expansion in student numbers from 750 to 1,200.

In a statement it said “extensive refurbishments” would also take place across the other academies - Outwood Academy Freeston, Outwood Academy Bell Lane, Outwood Primary Academy Newstead Green (formerly Havercroft Primary) and Outwood Primary Academy Park Hill (formerly Heath View Primary), “to ensure the best possible facilities for all students”.

It added: “This includes the replacement of inadequate boiler systems, roofs, halls and dining spaces.”

Kevin Swift, a Wakefield councillor and chair of the governing body of the former Wakefield City Academy said the refurbishment cash was much needed.

But he said without knowing how much money and exact spending proposals, it was hard to know how far it would go to meeting the requirements of the school, built in the 1960s.

Two of the three secondary schools OGAT has taken over were the lowest performing in Wakefield last year, according to national performance tables, and two of the three primaries were said to be requiring improvement by education watchdog Ofsted.

The chief executive of the trust Martyn Oliver said OGAT had “great plans” to develop the academies.

Julie Slater, Chief Executive Principal, Secondary for Outwood said: “We are confident that we can raise standards in all three secondary academies and improve opportunities for young people across the Wakefield district.”

Lee Wilson, Chief Executive Principal, Primary added: “We have made a great start in the new primary academies.

“Staff and children are proud of their new school identities and are rising to the high expectations and aspirations that we have for them.

“It has been a privilege to see the rapid transformation of these settings over the last month and how staff, both old and new, are working together to raise standards and transform lives and communities.”