News and views from north Bristol's urban village

Thursday, 25 August 2011

Oasis Academy Becomes St Ursula's (Again)

The former St Ursula's School on Brecon Road is to re-open - sort of. 

Just when it seemed that north-west Bristol's complicated state school provision had been finalised, further complexity has been added by the planned opening of a new state-funded primary academy on the site of the former St Ursula's/Oasis School in Westbury on Trym next week. 

The background to the proposed opening of the St Ursula's E-ACT Academy is as follows:

  1. The original St Ursula's Roman Catholic all-age fee-paying school went into administration in August of 2010 as a result of declining student numbers.
  2. The school site - formerly owned by the Catholic order The Sisters of Mercy - was bought by Bristol City Council for £2 million as part of a rescue package worked out between administrators Grant Thornton and the Council.
  3. As part of this rescue package, external education provider Oasis Community Learning, based in London, agreed to submit a bid to open a state-funded academy on the St Ursula's site. Oasis currently runs two other state academies in Bristol - in Shirehampton and Hengrove. Because of the time constraints, and in order to avoid disrupting the education of the remaining St Ursula's pupils, Oasis agreed to run the school as a fee-paying independent school for one year while the academy application was submitted and processed by the Department of Education.
  4. In March of 2011, the academy application involving Oasis was turned down by the Department of Education.
  5. A new application was submitted, this time for a primary-only academy. In May,  education provider E-ACT was chosen as the proposed sponsor to open the new academy, on the site of the existing Oasis School.
  6. The new primary academy is due to open in September, receiving the former primary school students from Oasis and, according to the E-ACT website, 60 additional reception-age pupils.
  7. Despite the new school being a non faith-based academy, the name of the new academy will be St Ursula's E-ACT Academy.

Meanwhile, the Bristol Free School will be opening its doors from September for secondary age students,at the former government offices on Burghill Road in Brentry. In April of this year, the Council agreed in principle to allow the Bristol Free School to relocate to the St Ursula's/Oasis site, while the new St Ursula's Academy remained on site as well. The proposal is for two separate schools to be based on the Brecon Road site from Sept 2012. 

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