New Building Strong Future

Our New Building Strong Future campaign was launched on Wednesday 20 September 2017. In case you missed the initial presentation, the slides are available from the document below



The legacy of the past

On 6 October the former principal of Sawtry Community College, James Stewart, will be sentenced in the Crown Court having pleaded guilty to eight counts of fraud by abuse of position and an additional charge of misconduct in public office. The former vice principal, Alan Stevens, has also pleaded guilty to two counts of fraud by abuse of position. All these crimes relate to their time at the College.

Where we are now

The long-term sustainability of the school remains at risk because of what we can now publicly say were the crimes of the past. Not only has the school lost significant sums of money as a result of those crimes, but the behaviours and absence of leadership during that prolonged period means that we are still trying to catch up on years of under investment in health and safety and building conditions.

For far too long, our students, staff and community have to suffer shoddy buildings that are not fit for use.

In February 2016 an independent report suggested that over £2.5 million was needed just to bring the buildings back up to a basic operational standard.  In the summer of 2016, CMAT committed its trust-wide “Schools Condition Allowance” fund to address the issues at Sawtry and the imminent threat of closure made by the fire authority after they had been invited to assess the buildings.

This is not a trivial matter.  A poor quality physical environment has an impact on student attainment, attendance, morale and on staff recruitment and retention.  In February this year we had to close the school due to storm damage.  We have to find a way forward.

The planning permission for the £3.5 million teaching block proposed in the 2014/15 Condition Improvement Fund bid is still in place.  The trust has pledged to contribute over £1 million of this funding; but we need another £2 million from our partners to make this much needed improvement to the buildings a reality.

How can I help?

We now need the help and support of the whole local community to ensure that those who can make a difference start to act.

We are now asking for you to action your support by liking and sharing our Facebook page, NewBuildingStrongFuture, and signing our petition which can be found at:

Show your support  in putting right the crimes and mistakes of the past by emailing your local councillor and those on the Cambridgeshire County Council Children and Young People Committee, to encourage their investment in the new school buildings at Sawtry Village Academy.  Their contact information can be found here

An update from the second public meeting 

Thank you to all those who attended the meeting last night and for your continued support throughout the campaign. In case you missed the presentation evening, the slides can be found below.

Second Public Meeting

It became clear how we are moving in the right direction and we would like to take this opportunity to remind you of the next steps in our search for funding:

At the meeting Shailesh Vara MP encouraged us all to write to him expressing our views and concerns for the buildings at Sawtry Village Academy and how we feel this is an exceptional circumstance which demands additional funding from the Government.

When writing to Shailesh Vara state you would like him to discuss this with the Education Minister, Lord Agnew, or the Education Secretary, Justine Greening (or both!). When this is said in a letter to Mr Vara, he has a duty to send a letter himself to those you have asked him to discuss the issue with. If everyone can mention this in their letters to Mr Vara, Lord Agnew and Justine Greening will see this is an issue which needs to be addressed immediately.

Mr Vara’s contact details: or Shailesh Vara MP, House of Commons, London, SW1A 0AA

Unfortunately Councillor Simon Bywater could not attend the meeting but he sent a letter in his absence which is available this link

At the CYP meeting on 5 December, Councillor Bywater, the chairman of the Children and Young Person committee, presented a case to his committee to support the funding for Sawtry Village Academy.

The paper that was presented to the CYP Committee in support of the funding for Sawtry Village Academy on 5 December has been published and it is accessible through the document below.  We are pleased to report that as a result of the presentations and petitions made at this meeting the CYP Committee agreed to support our cause with a donation of £2 million.


An update from the third public meeting 

Thank you to all those who attended the meeting last night and for your continued support throughout the campaign. In case you missed the presentation evening, the slides can be found below.

22 March Public Meeting

The meeting began with an introduction from CMAT Trustee, Paul Phillipson, who recapped on where we were in November and congratulated the school on its successful Ofsted report.

Councillor Simon Bywater talked about the meeting in December 2017, in which Cambridgeshire County Council’s Children and Young Persons committee voted in favour of a proposal to invest £2 million towards the redevelopment of our school buildings. The investment will mean the most affected buildings in the school will be replaced by a purpose-built new school building, including around 18 new classrooms. This was a significant step in the right direction and we would like to thank you all for your hard work in making this happen and Councillor Simon Bywater for supporting the proposal throughout.

Shailesh Vara MP followed with an update on the conversations he and others have had with the Education Skills Funding Agency. These meetings were relatively successful although conversations are still ongoing and confirmation of any funding is yet to be made. Again, this was another significant step for the campaign and we would like to thank you for all your hard work and persistent campaigning and Mr Vara for his support and efforts for the campaign.

Mark Woods, Chief Executive of CMAT, concluded the meeting by talking about the next steps for the campaign. Since the funding was allocated from the Children and Young Persons committee, the school have chosen a contractor – Hutton Construction – to build the new block. Building work is expected to begin in late Spring and the new block is expected to be open by Summer 2019. We also hope to demolish the English and MFL block and refurbish the library to make new, expanded space for our Outstanding sixth form ready for Autumn 2018. We will also consolidate the site even further and hope to stop using the old DT rooms as humanities classrooms.

However, there is still work to be done to ensure we can refurbish the other buildings in the school and to rectify the mistakes of the previous leadership. The school still need a further £1 million approximately for refurbishment of the older buildings. In his update, Mark said that he is currently hopeful that the school will receive £600,000 from the Education and Skills Funding Agency and that, through future School Condition Allocation funding allowance, a further £400,000 could be contributed by the Trust.

Finally Mark discussed the positive conversations he and Sarah have had with Hunts District Council on the use of the sports centre and he was pleased to announce that costs have now almost halved. However, the school still has to pay around £30,000 per year to use its own building and cannot afford to use the full range of facilities or generate any additional income from the sports centre. This conversation will be continued going forward.