Delayed Wavertree school passes major hurdle

Plans for a new school in Wavertree hit by delays have passed a major hurdle but confusion reigns over a proposed opening date.

It had been expected that King’s Leadership Academy would open its doors to a cohort of students this September to help ease Liverpool’s placement issues. However, the new academy was forced to push back its opening date owing to a lack of permission to convert the former Sony offices on Stephenson Way.

Now Liverpool Council has confirmed the building has secured planning permission allowing necessary work to go-ahead.

King’s Leadership Academy Wavertree planned to open in five months’ time as a non-selective free independent secondary school. It will be the fifth of the Great Schools Trust’s academies, joining those already established in Dingle, Bootle, Warrington, and Bolton.

The school plans to offer 180 year 7 places initially and said it would be “founded on international research and traditional values, focusing on leadership and academic development.” However, a planning application for the site on Wavertree Technology Park was only received by Liverpool Council on 1 February.

This was submitted by the Department for Education (DfE) and was passed by the planning authorities last month. A spokesperson for Liverpool Council said, “The change of use for the site has been granted subject to the Department for Education, the applicant, discharging conditions.

“We continue to support the Department for Education and King’s Leadership Academy on the plans for the proposed school.”

When the delay was confirmed earlier this year, Benjamin Barker, principal of the King’s Leadership Academy Wavertree, said the Trust had pushed back opening until next September. He said, “We have been working towards opening our new free school in Wavertree. Due to unforeseen delays in securing the planning permissions to convert the site into a school, the Department for Education (DfE) has been unable to complete the funding agreement for King’s Wavertree, so it has taken the decision to delay our planned opening until September 2025.

“This removes any uncertainty for parents and children who received a firm offer at another school on National Offer Day.”

However, the LDRS understands a provisional opening date has not yet been agreed for the site, which had housed PlayStation manufacturer Sony for more than 25 years. A series of meetings have taken place between the DfE, Liverpool Council and Paula Barker, Liverpool Wavertree MP, in a bid to get the doors open as quickly as possible.

Mrs Barker has criticised how the situation has been handled and said the Department for Education (DfE) could have acted sooner. In a statement in March, the Labour MP said she had held talks with Liverpool Council and the Great Schools Trust to outline the “impact this has had on parents and children affected”.

She said, “While none of those discussions have made concrete progress towards ensuring the school can open in September as previously planned, I am assured Liverpool Council and the Great School Trust are committed to doing everything possible to try to make that happen.”

Image: GOOGLE

Why not follow birkenhead.news on Facebook, Twitter, and Threads? You can also send story ideas or letters to the editor to news@birkenhead.news