New school for A-levelstudents gets go-ahead

A LONG-awaited new sixth form in Speedwell has been given the green light by the government.

Up to 1,000 places will be provided for A-level, BTEC and other further education students aged 16-19 after the Cabot Learning Federation was given permission to establish a new free school on the site of the former Speedwell Fire Station, which closed in 2015.

The trust says the “state-of-the-art” school could be open by 2025.

The fire station on Speedwell Road is next to Bristol Brunel Academy, which is also run by the CLF.

Bristol City Council bought the site after the fire station closed, for just under £500,000, and announced the site would be transferred to CLF under a 125-year lease as part of a £4.5 million deal, agreed in 2020, to provide extra secondary school places.

The fire station was demolished in 2019. The site is boarded up but currently occupied by squatters.

CLF hopes the new school will “open new routes into further education for students who may traditionally have missed out in competition for the city’s post-16 places”.

The Voice understands that it will become the new permanent home of the federation’s CLF Post 16 centre, which currently operates from temporary buildings on the site of John Cabot Academy in Kingswood.

Sixth formers who were based at Bristol Brunel and the main buildings at John Cabot Academy were moved out to create extra space for Year 7 pupils under the 2020 deal with the city council.

CLF Post 16 principal Kath Cooper said: “I am thrilled with the DfE’s decision to support the CLF’s ambitions for Post 16 education in East and Central Bristol.

“This project will allow us to continue to grow our curriculum and meet the needs of all learners, while having a positive impact on the lives of students in our community, as they secure academic success and move on to aspirational careers. “

Chief executive Steve Taylor said: “This is the culmination of a long-held ambition for the CLF, and supports our wider goal of helping the region’s young people to overcome disadvantage to fulfil their potential and enhance their life prospects.”

Announcing the new school as Cabot Sixth Form, on a list of 15 free schools it expects to open within four years, the DfE said they would be “opened in parts of the country where education outcomes are weakest, providing more opportunities for local young people”.

Education Secretary Gillian Keegan said: “We want to make more good school places available to families, and these 15 new free schools will bring brand new opportunities to young people from Bradford to Bristol.”