The site of a new school was blessed by the Acting Bishop of Bradford at a ceremony marking the start of construction yesterday.

The school, due to open in September 2015, was also officially named at the event as Bradford Forster Academy – after the Bradford MP who helped introduce universal education to the country.

The secondary school, estimated to cost £12 million and catering for 1,050 pupils, is being built on Fenby Road, East Bowling, by contractors Wates Construction.

Bishop Tom Butler joined the Academy’s sponsors Bradford Diocesan Academies Trust (BDAT), Integrated Bradford LEP and Bradford Council members at the service.

The original plan was to name the school Grace Academy, but this it clashed with that of another academy chain and instead will be named after William Forster.

The academy will be a 7,700 square metre, seven-form entry school, with 210 year seven pupils starting in the first year. It will reach full capacity by September 2019.

The Venerable Dr David Lee, chairman of the Bradford Diocesan Academies Trust, said: “We are delighted that visible work is now under way in developing Bradford Forster Academy. Not only are the builders on site, but the admissions’ consultation is complete and we are about to start the recruitment of the new principal.”

Alongside the main school building, Wates will also build an indoor sports facility andmulti-purpose hall that will be available for community use.

The group has pledged to use the building works to create training and employment opportunities for local people, including a series of practical work experience placements on site.

The school will be a member of the Bradford Diocesan Academies Trust, which operates a number of Church of England academies in the Bradford area. Forster Academy is the siecond secondary academy to join the trust alongside Bradford Academy.

William Forster was elected MP for Bradford in 1861 and created the first Education Act in 1870 – providing education for every child between five and 13.