December 10 2013 Latest news:
Sunday, September 22, 2013
One of West Norfolk’s biggest schools has completed the £10.5m makeover which it hopes will propel its students to a bright future.
After more than two years of design and building work involving more than 1,000 people, parents will this week be shown around the new King’s Lynn Academy and told: “Things have changed dramatically.”
The former Park High School site, in Queen Mary Road, King’s Lynn, was taken over by the Norfolk County Council and College of West Anglia-sponsored academy in 2010 with the promise it would offer “a new and different type of school for west Norfolk”.
Its new development and refurbishment is designed to reflect the change principal Craig Morrison wants to bring about, with old-style corridors and classrooms banished in favour of fully-visible classrooms with glass walls and an open, shared social space.
There will also be a balcony for special events and a glass room set aside for exhibitions and for primary schools to use to help challenge their pupils and prepare them for the step up to secondary education.
Mr Morrison said the real success of the school would depend on attracting the right teachers and ensuring pupils achieve their best - but added: “The environment just makes it happen more quickly.”
He also said: “Having this kind of environment attracts those teachers to come and work here, so it really goes hand-in-hand.”
Mr Morrison, who took over as principal in 2011 and was heavily involved in the design work with Studio E of London, said the thinking behind the open classrooms and glass walls was to “create a sense of expectation”.
He explained: “Other students and teachers will be walking by and be able to see the learning, sometimes joining in.
“The learning is always on show and there is a sense of everyone working together. It creates that sense of purpose.”
The classroom layouts were devised with the help of Honeycomb Architects of Ely.
He added that the entrance to the academy and the main hall area, which also acts as a shared space where pupils can socialise and use computers, gives students a “sense of excitement and belonging - a sense that they own this academy”.
“In the past they would have been sat on the floors of the corridors. We wanted to give them a real place to meet,” he said.
The site, which is currently being fully-landscaped with a range of trees, flowering shrubs and plants will also have 138 parking spaces and provision for more than 150 bicycles in fully-lockable shelters.
Mr Morrison added: “This was £10.5m to be spent on the community,” not just the school. “It is an investment in the town.
“There is no doubt that the future looks bright for the academy and these new buildings point the way forward to an exciting new chapter, with the personal best of every student our absolute priority.”
Vice-principal Robert Ogden, who has overseen the project, said it was “an outstanding design which totally interpreted our educational vision”.
He described is as a “modern environment which is flexible, purposeful, dynamic and fully supportive of 21st Century teaching and learning”.
Mr Ogden added: “It incorporates state-of-the-art technical and general classrooms, dining and social facilities whilst also creating a welcoming yet iconic building.”
Pupils were also impressed with the new facilities. Patrick Hewlett, 13, said: “Overall, it’s just a really nice building.”
Robyn Boughen, also 13, said: “The different varieties of classrooms and open areas is a good thing for students.”
Sinead Goldsmith, 13, said: “It is very different, colourful and quite open.”