Exclusive look round Norwich City Academy new building

Just days before City Academy Norwich finally takes control of its new �21m school, the Evening News has been given an exclusive first look around the completed building.

Contractors who have been working on the project for 16 months are finally moving in furniture and making the finishing touches to the three-storey site. On Monday, construction company Kier will sign the building over to the school.

During a tour, City Academy principal David Brunton said: 'I think, to be perfectly frank, it has exceeded my hopes. The students can't wait to get in here. It's every day now they're asking me 'Sir, when are we going in?' They're really keen.'

From Monday, school staff will be able to go to the site without the need for hard hats and protective shoes.

It will allow teachers and support staff to look at how the building will work in practical terms – where registers will be stored or whether a book shelf needs to be moved – and make any changes needed ahead of students beginning to move over from the old Earlham High School site in June.

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Mr Brunton said: 'We weren't meant to be in until September but we're going in early. It gives us six weeks of being in there and learning about it before the summer holidays. When the students are not here, we can tweak and fine tune.'

But already it is possible to imagine how the academy will look with desks, chairs, beanbags and even sewing machines now being put in place ready for the move.

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Murals have been painted on the walls and each of the classrooms bears the name of one of the school's four houses – discovery, leadership, creativity and values.

And the community wing of the building, which includes a dance and movement studio, a gym, and a sports hall, is all ready for its new equipment, which will be accessible to clubs and individuals in the Earlham area.

The academy features a large open atrium at the back of the school, looking out on to the woods behind it, with two curving walkways leading to classrooms on the first and second floors.

Each faculty – linked to each of the four houses – has its own 'break-out space' which will allow students to venture out of their rooms and learn in a more flexible environment.

Technology rooms feature both domestic kitchens for traditional food technology lessons and industrial-standard equipment – opposite the school's own kitchen for lunchtimes – for vocational courses.

And radio studios, a television studio, and music rehearsal rooms will encourage students to get involved with the creative arts.

Principal Mr Brunton admitted the mixed-sex 'anti-bullying toilets', which open out straight on to the corridors with no doors and will be used by both students and staff, could prove a controversial feature.

He said: 'Staff, students, boys, girls – everyone using the same facilities. They will all be monitored by camera.

'There's been a little bit of concern when they have hard about it but when they've seen it there's been a lot less concern.'

Chris Lowe, project manager for Kier, said he was pleased with the way the major project had progressed and was excited to see it all coming together.

He added: 'The passion of what the academy wanted to put in here came across really well. It's helped us understand what we were building more than ever before.'

The contractors are now working on the landscaping outside the main school building, which will include a pond, raised beds to be tended by students, and a number of 'outdoor classrooms'.

Demolition of the old Earlham High School building will begin at the end of July once students start their summer holidays.

What do you think? Write to Evening News Letters, Prospect House, Rouen Road, Norwich, NR1 1RE, or email eveningnewsletters@archant.co.uk.

Do you have a story about your school? Call reporter Victoria Leggett on 01603 772468 or email victoria.leggett@archant.co.uk

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