Fakenham Academy’s sixth form and high school to merge on a single site
- Credit: IAN BURT
A town's sixth form is to move out of its 19th-century home and down the road to the site of its high school.
Fakenham Academy is currently spread over two sites – with the high school on Field Lane and Fakenham College, its sixth form, at the historic Highfield House on Wells Road.
But from September the two will unite, with the sixth form relocating to Field Lane and moving into revamped buildings which are to undergo a £750,000 facelift.
The TEN Group – the academy's sponsor – says the move will mean students and staff waste less time travelling between the two, make music, sport and drama facilities more accessible and save in the region of £100,000.
It says the current classrooms are 'outdated, verging on dilapidated' and that links between younger and older pupils will be strengthened.
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Matthew Parr-Burman, principal at Fakenham Academy, said the case for moving to a single site was 'compelling'.
'As much as we are all very fond of the historic Wells Road building, it sadly no longer provides a suitable environment in which to learn and costs a huge amount to maintain,' he added. 'Continuing with the current arrangement would not have been a responsible use of scarce public funds and not in the best interests of our students.'
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The TEN Group said discussions with Norfolk County Council, which owns the Wells Road land, about the site's future are ongoing.
Savings made from the move will see the school's IT infrastructure and facilities improved, with WiFi introduced and all year 12 students on Level 3 courses given Chromebooks to support their studies.
The new facility – to be named Fakenham Sixth Form – will have a refurbished study space, canteen and 10 classrooms in the Perowne Building, but will keep a separate entrance and parking spaces.
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Shift in growth
Though demographic shifts have seen the number of pupils at Fakenham Academy drop from 1,200 to 800, the town's growth over coming years will see more places needed.
Fakenham is expected to welcome more than 1,400 new homes over the next 10 years, and Norfolk County Council is working to ensure it has enough places for the new families.
The TEN Group is in talks with the Education Funding Agency in a bid to secure extra cash to develop the Field Lane site.
If successful, it would likely be spent on three new buildings – a technology block, science spaces and a sixth form block towards the front of the site.
Fakenham College is set in the grade II-listed Highfield House, a Georgian building set in spacious grounds.
Built in 1823, it was converted into an all-boys secondary school one hundred years later, in September 1923.
After the introduction of the Education Act 1944, two years later it became Fakenham Grammar School.
A 15-foot wine cellar, with 17 storage alcoves, was found intact in 1990.
In 2003, part of the building was destroyed in a fire.
To recognise the memories made by staff and pupils past and present, a farewell day will be planned for the summer term.