A REAL Olympic legacy could be the outcome of plans for a new secondary school centred on sporting excellence, Croydon's education chief has said.
Councillor Tim Pollard, the council's cabinet member for children, families and learners, announced the idea at this week's full council meeting, and the scheme will be considered by the cabinet on Monday.
Cllr Pollard told the Advertiser: "This idea is more than just another school expansion, it is a genuine Olympic legacy project that focuses attention on Croydon's growing reputation for sporting prowess."
The new plan envisages combining the use of the South Norwood adult education centre site and the nearby Croydon Arena, in Albert Road, to provide a new six-form entry secondary school, specialising in sports science, with a 250-strong sixth form.
If backed, the plans would replace earlier proposals to open a four-form entry school on the adult education site alone, operating as an annex to an existing high school.
There had been suggestions this could have led to the return a grammar school to Croydon, combining the new school with an existing grammar - possibly in neighbouring boroughs Bromley or Sutton - but there was no interest from any grammar schools.
Now, Mr Pollard told Monday's meeting, further investigations had revealed it would be possible to combine the adult education and arena sites for use as a stand-alone viable school, provided permission for release of open land at the Arena can be obtained from the Greater London Authority.
Under the proposals, the Arena would continue to be used by local teams and sports clubs.
Cllr Pollard said the council had started the process of looking for partners on the project.
He added: "As well as educational bodies, we are also keen to hear from commercial organisations in the sporting world who would be interested in becoming a part of this thrilling chance to build on the Olympics triumph."
Talks have already started with Croydon FC and the Croydon Harriers, both of whom use the Arena as their base.
The council says its plan would allow both organisations to continue to use the site, with the added bonus that all of its facilities would be significantly upgraded.
While not rejecting the idea, Labour education spokeswoman Councillor Kathy Bee questioned the motive behind the change of direction.
She said: "It looks as if the four form annex idea was a wheeze to get grammar schools back."