Sunderland free school plans multi-million expansion

Grindon Hall Christian School in Sunderland.
Grindon Hall Christian School in Sunderland.
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SUNDERLAND’S first free school wants to build a multimillion-pound extension after pupil numbers rocketed.

Grindon Hall Christian School, which caters for almost 540 children aged between five and 18, is bidding to create a new accommodation block at its Nookside site.

Artist's impression of what the new extension at Grindon Hall Christian School, in Nookside, will look like.

Artist's impression of what the new extension at Grindon Hall Christian School, in Nookside, will look like.

Before it was given free school status, it had a roll of 345 pupils.

The school has capacity for 560 pupils, but is now hoping to construct a single-storey block which will be Government-funded.

The new building, which will cost about £3million, will feature “a multi-purpose hall, a kitchen, music classroom and changing facilities”, forming the primary school section of Grindon Hall.

Principal Chris Gray said: “We have opened this year with over 500 pupils, which is 220 more than we have previously.

“It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to work out that we need more space, and that’s why we are building 14 new classrooms.

“This needs to happen because of the number of pupils we now have.

“We are now one of the biggest free schools in the country, which is another thing that Sunderland should be proud of.”

The school became a free school, meaning it is independent of control from Sunderland Council, in September after successfully applying to the Department of Education earlier this year.

Youngsters in each year are taught in two classes of 20, bringing them through the education system until they complete their A-Levels. 
The site where the school stands was originally Grindon Hall Hospital, before being turned into the school in 2000.

Speaking about becoming a free school, Mr Gray added: “It’s going very, very well.

“We’ve got many more children than we have had before and our primary school is completely full.

“But we’ve also got 15 new staff who have joined us as well.”

Proposals for the extension are expected to go before Sunderland Council’s planning committee in January.

The project is being procured under the Government Procurement Service Framework for Modular Buildings.

Preferred bidder, The McAvoy Group, could begin building work, designed by Blue Sky Architects, early next year.

The extension is expected to be completed in time for the 2013/2014 academic year next September.

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