Update on proposed new secondary schools in Middleton and Littleborough

Date published: 01 November 2018

Councillors have agreed to lease the land for two new schools in the borough to whichever organisation is successful in its bid for government funding to open a new free school in the borough.

Two new secondary schools are needed to meet the number of school places required for children in the borough. A new 180 place (per year group) secondary school is required for Heywood/Middleton by 2020 and a new 180 place (per year group) secondary school will be required by 2022.

The Wardle Trust, which runs four schools in the borough of Rochdale, has submitted to the Department for Education (DfE) an expression of interest to bid and build a new Littleborough secondary school. Altus Education Partnership, which runs Rochdale Sixth Form College, is bidding to run the other proposed school at Bowlee in Middleton. A meeting of the council’s cabinet committee on 30 October 2018 was told that Altus had withdrawn its expression of interest in the Littleborough site in order to concentrate on its bid to run the Middleton school.

While the Wardle Trust and Altus Education Trust are believed to now be ready to submit formal bids to DFE (Department for Education), other organisations have also since come forward to express an interest in bidding. As a result, the council has now been asked by DFE to confirm in writing that the land will be made available to any bidder, should they be successful in securing government funding.

The council must provide the number of school places required for the borough and provide land for new schools. Since the Academies Act (2010) and the Education Act (2011) came into effect, new schools must be independent of local authority control, and operated by government-approved academy trusts. Councils must provide the land for them.

The Council recognises the positive reputation and success of the local bidders and the commitment shown by the Altus Trust in engaging local communities in preparing their bid. It would therefore hope that if funding for free schools is granted, that local bidders are successful.

However, it acknowledges that it is for the Department for Education to decide which organisation it will fund to run any free school in the borough.

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