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Starting the new year in a new building
The start of this autumn term has seen 28 schools completed through the Priority School Building Programme, the government’s scheme to refurbish and rebuild some of the most run-down school buildings in the country.
The start of the 2016/17 academic year has seen 28 schools across the country rebuilt or refurbished through the Priority Schools Building Programme.
The programme was established in 2011 to address the needs of school buildings in the worst condition. It followed on from the labour government’s Building Schools for the Future (BSF) scheme which was axed in 2010.
In the first wave of the programme, 260 schools received capital funding of £2.4bn. 140 of those schools have now opened and the majority of the remaining schools in the first phase are predicted to open by the end of 2017.
The second phase of the PSBP will see 277 schools to benefit. In total therefore, the programme will see 537 schools revamped.
Lord Nash, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for the School System, said: “We are raising standards in our schools, with more than 1.4 million more pupils in good or outstanding schools than in 2010, and it is only right that children are learning in an environment that matches the standard of that education.
“The priority school building programme is transforming hundreds of school buildings on budget and ahead of schedule ensuring that all children, regardless of background, can learn in an environment that will help them fulfil their potential.
“The PSBP is transforming the most run‑down schools in the country by providing facilities fit for the 21st century, including bright classrooms, inspiring libraries and specialist music facilities. The new buildings will ensure pupils have the right environment to help them fulfil their potential.”
New year, new building
South Nottinghamshire Academy is one of those to reopen this term through the programme following a £12 million rebuild.
The building is a three storey finger block design which meets the educational needs of current students and future generations.
General and practical teaching spaces have been organised in suites with a sense of identity, but allowing some variation in the range of spaces. The new build is efficient and provides a dining space which is a central focus to the school and can be used as a milling space during the school day and, in conjunction with the hall and drama space, for after-school events.
The new building has an intelligent building energy management system that uses advanced technology to manage the heating, lighting, acoustics and ventilation.
The school now has a spacious learning resource centre, a state of the art kitchen, and main hall/theatre with bleacher seating. It also boasts a separate sixth form study room and common room, drama/dance studio, and fitness suite.
Another school that starts the year in a new building is Lansdowne School, a special school in south London. It has been equipped with state-of-the-art facilities to teach pupils with autistic spectrum disorder (ASD), thanks to £7.7 million funding through the programme. The new building includes an open dining area and a modern learning resource centre, as well as space for the school to introduce new post-16 provision.
The new food tech space is large and allows a cooking station for each pupil. There is also a new, modern science lab, two art studios, a music and ICT space, a sensory room and a new gym.
Kings Langley School in Hertfordshire has had its worn‑out building reconstructed using a host of standard design principles to ensure that the building is both functional and flexible. Developer Kajima responded to tighter budgetary constraints by optimising passive environmental solutions, such as maximising the orientation of the site to enhance natural daylight and ventilation. These were central considerations which will ultimately lead to reduced operational running costs in the long term.
Wolfreton School and Sixth Form College in Willerby, North Yorkshire, have started the new year in their £22m new building, which brought the schools two old sites together.
Wolfreton headteacher Dave McCready said: “The long wait for a new building for the students, staff and governors of Wolfreton is finally over and we are delighted to start the academic year in our fantastic, modern building which enables the whole school to be based on one site for the first time since 1970.”
He said: “We know how fortunate we are as a school to have been involved in the priority school building programme and we are grateful of the support we have received from the East Riding of Yorkshire Council.
“The new school ensures that the young people of our local community, present and future, will have access to wonderful facilities for many years to come.”
Pupils at Laurence Jackson School in North Yorkshire also started the academic year in their new state-of-the-art building. The main building is shaped like a capital E and has colour-coded wings dedicated to different areas of study. The school includes a technology block, a new theatre and performance space. The dining hall and library sit in the heart of the building, with high ceilings which offer room for expansion, should the school need it in the future.
The building sits on the site of an old Astroturf pitch, which has been moved and rebuilt to become a full size, floodlit, artificial grass pitch. The pitch was funded by the scheme, and extra money was added by the Football Association.
Outside of school hours, the school is planned to serve as a hub for adult education and local community groups.