Delight at plans for new centre

A family learning scheme and more places at one of Norfolk's top schools will be created under plans to build a new sixth form centre in Wymondham. The £500,000 project will also see an extension of Wymondham High School's library and the inclusion of the town's previously under-threat Learning Initiative Centre.

A family learning scheme and more places at one of Norfolk's top schools will be created under plans to build a new sixth form centre in Wymondham.

The £500,000 project will also see an extension of Wymondham High School's library and the inclusion of the town's previously under-threat Learning Initiative Centre.

Education leaders in the south Norfolk town said the project would improve community learning and go some way to addressing Wymondham's need for more sixth form places.

The town is growing rapidly - with many more homes planned - with families attracted by its transport links, proximity to Norwich, community spirit and above all, its top quality schools.

Headteacher David Brunton, who was brought into the school in 2005 with the brief to improve community links, said the project, which was submitted to South Norfolk Council's planning department this week, was “very exciting”.

“Our sixth form now is at a point where without significant investment we are not able to deliver what we need to deliver,” he said. “The £500,000 of investment will bring us to a position where we are closer to meeting the local need.”

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Mr Brunton said that the extended space created by the new centre would allow the school to take an extra 20 sixth formers from next September, if the scheme is granted planning permission.

There are currently about 200 students studying A-levels at the school whose results this summer placed it as the second best comprehensive in the country.

The headteacher also welcomed moves to bring the town's very successful but financially struggling Learning Initiative into the building.

“The project already exists in town and has helped 3,000 adults but they're struggling to make ends meet,” said Mr Brunton. “By coming into the school they can really start to push their development and it will improve our position within the town's community.”

Kate Wood, who heads up Wymondham Learning Initiative, said government funding for the six-year-old project had run out after three years and since then it had become a struggle to afford rent on their suite at the town council offices.

While the move to the high school would not guarantee the project's long-term status, cheaper rent would mean a greater proportion of fundraising could be diverted to new projects.

“This is a wonderful solution,” she said. “Having an IT suite has meant that up to now we've focussed on IT learning but we've always slightly regretted that that has prevented us from concentrating on community learning.

“We now want to start working with families - parents and children or even grandparents and children learning together - and we also want to develop outreach learning in the community.

“This move is good for us and good for the school, developing an important relationship for the community. We're very happy to be involved.”