Academy trust defends college plans after concerns over loss of outdoor sports facilities
An academy trust has defended plans for a new sixth college following criticism about the loss of outdoor sporting facilities.
Former PE teachers Paul Nightingale, John Rosenthal and Dennis Tattoo as well as Sport England raised concerns about proposals to build Abbeygate Sixth Form and a 263-space car park on part of King Edward VI School's playing fields.
They questioned whether a reduced area of playing field would meet the needs of both the secondary school and the 1,700 students of the proposed sixth form and said it could reduce potential for community access including access for St Edmundsbury Primary School.
In response, Suffolk Academies Trust, which will run the college, has sought to 'reassure all those concerned that protecting and maintaining the outdoor teaching spaces for all young people of this community is an integral part of the plans'.
A trust spokesperson said: "Our plans do see a reduction in the area of green space on the King Edward VI site, but the lower field will be levelled and improved to meet Sport England standards.
"Given that King Edward VI School becomes an 11-16 school with fewer students than currently enrolled, these facilities are an ample sufficiency to maintain a broad and varied PE curriculum. The school has mapped its PE curriculum for 2019 and has demonstrated it has the facilities it needs to deliver outstanding PE to all of its young people.
"The current arrangements with St Edmundsbury Primary School, will continue to be honoured, through the proposed building works and beyond.
"From the summer of 2018 to 2019 there will be building work going on but the proposed development phases ensure that during the construction of the new college, King Edward VI pupils will have continued access to the space needed for their teaching and learning needs."
They acknowledged that planning drawings 'do not illustrate boundaries clearly and could be misconstrued' but a revised plan (pictured above) 'should help clarify the boundaries'.
They added that they look forward to engaging further with all interested partners before and after the planning process.
The proposals are due to be decided by St Edmundsbury Borough Council in July.