Oversubscribed school unveils £8m expansion to welcome more pupils

Dame Rachel de Souza, CEO of Inspiration Trust, and Sue Baldwin, regional schools commissioner, open

Dame Rachel de Souza, CEO of Inspiration Trust, and Sue Baldwin, regional schools commissioner, open new facilities at Hethersett Academy. Picture: Inspiration Trust - Credit: Inspiration Trust

Students at an oversubscribed secondary school are the first to benefit from an £8 million expansion with new classrooms and a state-of-the-art theatre.

Student performing at the new theatre at Hethersett Academy. Picture: James Bass/Inspiration Trust

Student performing at the new theatre at Hethersett Academy. Picture: James Bass/Inspiration Trust - Credit: JAMES BASS PHOTOGRAPHY

The new building at Hethersett Academy houses 17 new classrooms for English, maths and art lessons, together with a state-of-the art new theatre, complete with bleacher seating, named after a popular former teacher.

The investment in the new building was funded by Norfolk County Council. For the last two years, the school has increased its student numbers in Year 7 and has still been oversubscribed.

MORE: Schools start new chapter after £20m cash injectionThe additional classrooms means that the school, which has been growing in popularity, will be better able to meet the increasing demand for places.

Hethersett Academy principal Jane Diver. Picture: Inspiration Trust

Hethersett Academy principal Jane Diver. Picture: Inspiration Trust - Credit: Archant

This year it has welcomed 230 students in Year 7 – an increase in the school role of 360 children in the last three years.

Dame Rachel De Souza, chief executive of Inspiration Trust, said: “Despite many building projects around the country being brought to a standstill by Covid, our new building at Hethersett has opened on time.


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“It is wonderful to see the new teaching block in action, and our budding thespians treading the boards in this incredible new performance space.”

Student performing at the new theatre at Hethersett Academy. Picture: James Bass/Inspiration Trust

Student performing at the new theatre at Hethersett Academy. Picture: James Bass/Inspiration Trust - Credit: JAMES BASS PHOTOGRAPHY

Regional schools commissioner for the East of England Sue Baldwin cut the ribbon to open the facilities at an event that saw guests treated to vocal, dance and instrumental performances by Year 9 and 10 students in the brand-new Helen Pye Theatre,named after the school’s retired former head of maths.

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Jane Diver, principal of Hethersett Academy said: “This amazing theatre, dark room, photographic suite and phenomenal art studios bode well alongside our passion for the arts and enrichment at Hethersett. We firmly believe learning through and about the arts, enhances the learning experience and prepares students for life after school by encouraging self-expression and creativity.

“It is also a fitting tribute to name our theatre in the new building which houses eight mathematics classrooms after Helen Pye, who dedicated over 30 years of her life to providing Hethersett children with the highest quality maths education and a passionate amateur dramatist herself.”

The £8 new building at Hethersett Academy houses 17 new classrooms for English, maths and art. Pictu

The £8 new building at Hethersett Academy houses 17 new classrooms for English, maths and art. Picture: Inspiration Trust - Credit: Inspiration Trust

MORE: School one of eight to be recognised nationally for local heritage teachingSue Baldwin, regional schools commissioner, said: “Schools are facing very challenging circumstances at the moment and to see such a fantastic facility first-hand knowing that robust protective measures are in place, shows us how school life continues to be vibrant, engaging and safe.”

John Fisher, cabinet member for children’s services at Norfolk County Council, said: “The project at Hethersett Academy marks an important milestone for the school and also for the village as it’s part of a wider programme to create hundreds of extra spaces for children in this growing community.”

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