Schools within expanding Tyneside multiple academy trust – Bishop Chadwick Catholic Education Trust – are the beneficiaries of a significant investment from a government improvement fund.
The two secondary schools – St Wilfrid’s RC College, South Shields, and St Aidan’s Catholic Academy, in Sunderland – are due to receive a combined total of more than £2.4m from the Department for Education’s Condition Improvement Fund.
St Aidan’s Catholic Academy is due to receive more than £900,000 for fire safety improvements and window replacements.
A larger investment of up to £1.5m is set to go to St Wilfrid’s to allow the school to build an extension incorporating six additional classrooms and a larger dining space.
The South Shields school, rated ‘outstanding’ by Ofsted, has been over-subscribed at the entry year for the last four years. The planned expansion will allow St Wilfrid’s to address the shortfall in space and increase annual entry numbers from 220 to 250 pupils.
The trust recently appointed Faithful and Gould as project consultants at St Wilfrid’s, supported by Space Architects to undertake the development. A building contractor is expected to be announced next February with a provisional start on site in March/April next year. The extension is due to be ready for September 2021.
Brendan Tapping, CEO at Bishop Chadwick Catholic Education Trust, said: “We are delighted that we have been granted the funding to build six additional teaching spaces, as well as increase the size of our dining room.
“The improvements to our building will greatly enhance the experience of our students, not least because we will be able to build the new facilities to the most modern standards.
“With our plans coming together to enable all children to return to school in September, it’s great to be able to look to the future and know we will have the space and facilities we need to give all our children the education they deserve.”
Funding has been confirmed in principle and will be confirmed following further DfE scrutiny to ensure best value is achieved. This investment is part of a larger, national announcement by the DfE to fund more than £434m in 1,476 improvement projects in academies, sixth-form colleges and non-diocesan voluntary aided schools.