Astrea Academy opened its doors for the first time last month, welcoming new pupils from Burngreave and surrounding areas.

The new academy has been built in the refurbished Grade-II listed Pye Bank School Building, which dates back to Victorian times.

Photo by Lauren Davidson

In seven years, the academy is set to be one of the biggest in Sheffield and will take children right through from nursery to sixth form.

At the moment, the school is home to nursery-aged children, reception and Year 7 pupils, who have come from 31 different schools across the city.

Each year, the number of students will rise when an influx of new Year 7 pupils start at the school.

Across the road from the current building, a new secondary school is being constructed and is set to be completed by the start of the next academic year.

Russell Jones, PA to the principal Kim Walton, said: “When I’ve worked in other schools before, you sometimes have issues with pupils not respecting their surroundings, but the pupils here have really taken pride in the building and they’ve used everything nicely and they’re always holding doors open for each other.

“They’re really enjoying it and they’re excited about the new building, so they’re always asking questions about when they’re going to move over there and what it will be like.”

Astrea prides itself on doing things differently to other schools. On Wednesday afternoons, the normal school day finishes after lunch, and pupils take part in sports, creative activities or talks.

Mr Jones said: “Our main ethos is to provide a rounded education, so not just to teach but to cover everything to make the pupils fit for adult life. That’s why we offer lots of extra-curricular activities. We run plenty of lunch-time and after-school clubs. We do a library club and there’s extra sessions for homework or maths or ICT. The list goes on.”

The school also plans for the new building to have several community spaces, in which people from the local area can come as they please and use the facilities.

“We really want to involve the local community and get them all to invest in the education of their kids. There’s a lot of need here in Burngreave, in terms of children from minorities or from lower economic backgrounds, so we’re coming in as a way to bring the whole community together and give it a focal point to rally around,” Mr Jones added.

“For me personally it’s really exciting being able to come in at the ground level and make it my career to follow these kids through from Year 7 and see them graduate at the end. That’s my ambition and it means a lot to me.”

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