Gosforth Great Park Academy (GGPA) Project

14 July 2016

Dear Parent/Carer/interested party,

I would like to take this opportunity to introduce myself and explain my role in the Gosforth Great Park Academy (GGPA) project.

My name is David Sheppard and I have worked for Gosforth Federated Academies for over 22 years and for 9 years my position was that of Director of Gosforth Junior High Academy. Recently, I assumed the role of Project Director for the GGPA project. In the near future I will be joined by a colleague, Corinne Raybould, as a fellow Project Director. Corinne has worked for Gosforth Federated Academies Limited for over 32 years, the last 9 years as Director of Human Resources.

Part of the role of Project Director is to act as a link between various parties, including the Department for Education (DfE), involved in the establishment of the new school, and to have a strategic overview of the project in the run up to and throughout the construction period. An important aspect of this is to liaise with stakeholders and inform them of significant progress milestones. I intend to arrange a number of meetings to facilitate this process.

In an attempt to pre-empt and answer some of your questions about the GGPA project, I have prepared a selection of frequently asked questions with answers.

​Frequently Asked Questions

  • Why build GGPA?
  • What’s happened so far?
  • When will GGPA open?
  • Where will GGPA be located?
  • How do I express an interest for my child to join GGPA?
  • How do I apply officially for my child to join GGPA?
  • What if my child does not get a place at GGPA?
  • How many pupils will be accommodated at GGPA?
  • Who will be the Principal of GGPA?

Why build GGPA?

As a result of the changing demographic profile of the Gosforth schools’ catchment area, it has been established that there will be significant pressure for school places within the next 3 to 5 years.  Current first and middle schools in the area are already expanding in an attempt to meet existing pressure.

Within a few miles of the Gosforth Federated Academes, there has been extensive housing development (The Great Park Expansion). 3000 homes are to be built by 2030, half having already been completed. Local Authority forecasts predict that 700 primary and 700 secondary school places will be required in the near future.

What’s happened so far?

We coordinated a leaflets drop of 10,000 leaflets to the wider community, including the Great Park area and adjacent areas.

We advertised and informed the community via Great Park Facebook.

Mr Snaith (Chair of Governors) hosted a New Schools Network bid briefing at Gosforth Academy in September 2015. All interested parties were invited to attend.

Letters and texts were sent to all parents and carers of children who attended schools within the Gosforth Pyramid of Schools.

Advertisements were posted on notice boards at the Great Park Community Centre and Sport at Gosforth Sports Centre.

Two public meetings were hosted by members of our senior staff at the Great Park Community Centre on 29 and 30 June 2015.

We launched our online and hard copy surveys.

A number of meetings have been held between the Department for Education and ourselves.

The Secretary of State for Education confirmed that our proposal to build GGPA should proceed to the next stage, the pre-opening stage.

Admissions arrangements have been submitted for approval.

The Principal Designate for GGPA has been determined. See later (Who will be the Principal of GGPA?).

When will GGPA open?

We are working with the Department for Education towards an opening date of September 2018. This is when the first pupils (year 5 and year 9) will be admitted to GGPA (see later, How many pupils will be accommodated at GGPA?).

Where will GGPA be located?

Initially, GGPA will be located on one of our existing sites, based at Gosforth Academy. Of course, this will be a high quality facility and the students will have access to all specialist facilities required to deliver an outstanding education.

We are involved in discussions with the DfE to determine the exact location, within Newcastle Great Park, of the new, permanent building. Our expectation is that the final location will be very close to the SAGE building.

How do I express an interest for my child to join GGPA?

We are currently registering interest for places. In order to do so, please access our website, click on the Great Park tab at the top of the page and then click the Register Interest tab and follow the instructions.

How do I apply officially for my child to join GGPA?

As stated earlier, “Admissions arrangements have been submitted for approval”. When these have been approved by the DfE, we will inform all interested parties as to the criteria for admission and the process for application for admission. These details will be published on our website and on the website of Newcastle Local Authority.

The closing date for applications for September 2018 entry is 31 October 2017 and offers will be made on 1 March 2018. Initially, offers will be conditional until the final funding agreement for the new school is signed by the Secretary of State for Education. Typically, this happens in the second half of the spring term for a school opening in September.

What if my child does not get a place at GGPA?

The academy will operate a waiting list for each year group. Where in any year the academy receives more applications for places than there are places available, a waiting list will operate until the 31 December of the school year. This will be maintained by the Academy Trust and it will be open to any parent to ask for his or her child’s name to be placed on the waiting list, following an unsuccessful application. Beyond 31st December, parents seeking admission will have the opportunity to reapply for a place via an academy application form. 

Positions on the waiting list will be determined solely in accordance with the oversubscription criteria, as set out in the school’s Admissions Policy.

All applicants who have been refused a place have a right of appeal to an independent appeal panel constituted and operated in accordance with the School Admission Appeals Code.

How many pupils will be accommodated at GGPA?

Initially, GGPA will recruit 60 pupils into year 5 & 60 pupils into year 9 from September 2018. Following a gradual and carefully coordinated increase of pupil numbers, it is anticipated that we will have reached full capacity at 1200 students in 2024. This will comprise of 120 pupils in each of years 5, 6, 7 and 8 and 240 pupils in each of years 9, 10 and 11.

Who will be the Principal of GGPA?

Excellent leadership in any school is of paramount importance, and clearly we want the best person for the job. Mr. Robinson (Principal of Gosforth Federated Academies) is Principal Designate of GGPA.

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