The Largest Free School in the country approved for Leeds City Centre South


The largest Free School in the country has been approved providing outstanding education in the city centre to the south of the river, an area with the potential to become a truly sustainable community.

The new school will be a significant catalyst for the transformation of this area, as part of a mix of family housing, green park-land, new employment, community and leisure facilities, all in the heart of the city.

Please click on the following link to view the Academy-Prospectus

The Ruth Gorse Academy created in a partnership between the Gorse Academies Trust and the   Leeds   Sustainable   Development   Group   will   deliver   educational   ‘excellence’  to secondary students, up to the age of 19.  The secondary school, which will form the first phase of development, will cater for around 1,500 students and have a Post-16 Centre of Excellence in Mathematics and Applied Mathematics.

John Townsley Executive Principal of the GORSE Academies Trust, said

“This is a really important development for young people and their families in Leeds.   We have a track record in The GORSE Academies Trust of creating truly outstanding schools and it is our determination to ensure that this is replicated in Leeds City Centre We appreciate the contribution this project will make to the learning community and are really excited at the prospect of working with Leeds City Council and other providers to deliver an excellent new facility at the heart of our city centre.  For far too many years not all families  have  enjoyed  the  opportunity  to  access  truly  outstanding education.  Equally importantly we also see this as one of the most important actions required to revitalise the south of our city centre with new family housing that will deliver a significant step change in the level of social mobility in a generation. The new academy will also provide greater access to opportunity in an area in need of regeneration. Supporting the growth of skills for residents is the key to the long term success of the Leeds economy and to tackling the barriers to opportunity associated with deprivation. ”

The Ruth Gorse Academy’s admissions policy will be centred on direct proximity to the school thus ensuring that families purchasing one of the proposed new houses and those already living close to this exceptional school will have access to the very highest quality educational facilities and the opportunities associated with it.  Supporting the growth of skills for residents is the key to the long term success of the Leeds economy. There are now approximately 300 schools in Leeds. Unfortunately Ofsted shows that over 30% of schools in the primary sector are failing. As the challenges of an increasing birth rate escalate, we face a serious shortage of school places in Leeds which is predicted to reach 11,000 by 2015. The new free secondary school is only the first phase of this development and an adjoining primary facility is already in the planning stage. For too many years not all families have enjoyed the opportunity to access truly outstanding education. Providing a new, centrally located, outstanding school, will kick-start development will entice families to move back to this highly accessible area and encourage young families and city dwellers in their twenties and thirties to remain within the urban core.

Peter Connolly Managing Director of Yorkshire Design Developments commented:

“The one thing that will open up opportunities for family housing in South Leeds is a new  school  –  and  now  it’s  happened.  Well  done  The  Gorse  Trust  and  Leeds Sustainable Development Group. The Gorse Trust has a first rate record of delivering high academic standards so this free school is great news for young people and an opportunity to transform South Leeds. For those of us that have been working to regenerate south of the river, we have always been stuck with the chicken and egg argument; you can’t build family houses and develop a community without good school facilities.  Now we will have them and along with the new park being created by Leeds City Council, the area will be transformed.  The years of behind the scenes work has paid off and a new spirit is alive in Leeds South Bank with The City College opening its doors this September. When Leeds Sustainable Development Group put forward the argument for family housing close to the city centre and in the south bank area the idea was met with some scepticism.  I have to admit, I was one of those sceptics so I am delighted to be able to be proved wrong. The south bank area has in the past been the beating heart of Leeds Industry so it’s great to see the area on the move and this piece of Leeds being put back into the Leeds jigsaw.”

The South Bank has tremendous development potential with some 210 acres (85 hectares) of vacant or under-utilised sites and premises which could accommodate some 8-10,000 new residential units on brown field land. The area is close to the existing prime city centre shops and amenities and has good links to the wider South Leeds area. A number of developments are already taking place to stimulate the revitalisation of this area, including the Leeds City College at the Print Works, new housing in Hunslet, the proposal for an international data-handling centre, the re-launch of New Dock and the NGT trolleybus. A successful, high-achieving school is a fundamental part of the social infrastructure of a 21st century city.

David Lumb Coordinator of the Leeds Sustainable Development Group said:

“The southern part of Leeds City Centre between the River Aire and the motorways  (City  Centre  South)  has  tremendous  development  potential. There are some 210 acres (85 hectares) of vacant or under-utilised sites and premises which could accommodate some 8-12,000 new residential units on brownfield land. Significant investment in social infrastructure such as schools, health centres and community facilities is vital to the creation of a sustainable urban community in this area. By providing a critically important part of this infrastructure, the proposed Ruth Gorse Academy will encourage city dwellers in their twenties and thirties to remain within the urban core, and entice new long-term residents with families to move to this highly accessible area We have created a unique opportunity with the Free School movement to make a significant difference to the next generation of children in Leeds. We would urge all those interested in the Ruth Gorse Academy, including parents, businesses and community members alike to register their support.”

Contact: David Lumb, Co-ordinator of the LSDG or John Townsley Executive Principal the GORSE Academies Trust.”

Notes to Editors:

Leeds Sustainable Development Group

The LSDG is a network of individuals who share a commitment to their city working together to make it better.

Contacts for the Press:

LSDG e-mail:  contact

LSDG website and blog:

The GORSE Academies Trust

This is a charitable company which currently oversees The Morley and Farnley Academies in Leeds.  The Trust is an approved sponsor and The Morley Academy is a Teaching School. Its vision is centred on ensuring that all young people, regardless of background, enjoy access to an outstanding education.

Contacts for the Press:

John Townsley; mobile: 07530 004391 e-mail:


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