Stevenage schools proposal is ‘groundbreaking’

A SCHOOL unveiled its proposal for an expansion across three-campuses yesterday (Wednesday) in what would be a “ground-breaking” restructure of education in Stevenage.

Hertfordshire County Council has confirmed Heathcote School will be passed on to Barnwell School, in collaboration with Greenside School, when it closes at the end of the academic year in 2012.

The expansion of Barnwell, which currently has a west and east campus in the town, would see the west site and the current Heathcote site both used for the teaching of 11 to 16-year-olds, while the former Collenswood School site would become a sixth form campus.

The proposals, which have been developed following a staff consultation and a series of visits to other campus schools, have been backed by staff and a two-week consultation period with parents and carers is now underway.

If the project gets the go-ahead it will be implemented in September 2012.

The plan follows the axing of the Building Schools for the Future (BSF) programme for Barnwell and Greenside by the Coalition Government. BSF was a nationwide project undertaken by the previous government to create 21st century learning environments across the UK.

Speaking exclusively to The Comet, headteacher Vivien Swaida said: “I think that Barnwell has become a specialist in providing campus-based education and since the school expanded in 2006 it’s learnt a lot about that.

Most Read

“It’s really exciting because what we’re offering is all the benefits of a small school while having curriculum resources that comes with being quite a large school. That’s unique within the context of Stevenage.

“While we were obviously disappointed BSF was cancelled, if the proposal of expansion across three campuses goes ahead it will give the school the opportunity to still deliver the vision that was to be possible through BSF to achieve what we want for the students of Stevenage.

“We are listening to our staff and listening to the students, parents and carers to make sure we get it right for them.

“We want to provide a world class education and this proposal offers an opportunity to achieve that - so every young person that comes through the door goes out achieving their absolute potential.

“It’s really exciting to be part of something that would be breaking ground nationally in terms of the type of school organisation and education offered.”

Ms Swaida, who became head of the school in September 2009, added: “The creation of a sixth form campus holds exciting educational potential and the chance to create a unique identity and distinct ethos for our students as they prepare for university and workplace education and training. We want to create a feeling on campus that students experience in their first year at university.”

As part of the consultation, an open meeting will be held at Barnwell School’s West Campus in Barnwell at 7.30pm on Wednesday, May 11.

The consultation documentation is available by visiting and comments and feedback can be sent in writing for the attention of the chair of governors or by email to

The deadline for responses is Thursday, May 19.