New Lowestoft Sixth Form College opens its doors
Educational dreams for north Suffolk youngsters have became reality with the opening of the new �25m Lowestoft Sixth Form College.
The college is part of a post-16 education restructuring in Lowestoft with the town's high schools now only taking pupils aged between 11 and 16 following the closure of middle schools in the town.
Having received confirmation from the government that the state-of-the-art sixth form centre could be built in December 2009, it has been a race against time to get the new building ready to welcome the first wave of students for its first academic year.
Until the end of last term, the town's three high schools - Kirkley, Benjamin Britten and The Denes - shared their sixth forms, but it meant pupils had to travel between the three sites for different lessons.
But now the state-of-the-art college, off Rotterdam Road is ready to house 1,000 16-18-year-olds on one campus.
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Boasting more than 40 courses, the four storey building includes a specialist drama and dance facilities as well as a performance area, a contemporary theatre linked to a central atrium space, a music recording studio and a dedicated Learning Resource Centre.
College principal Yolanda Botham said: 'Our mission statement is about enabling our students to excel and progress in an outstanding learning environment at the heart of Lowestoft - and we really have that here.'
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'There is a lot of space in this building for individual study,' the principal said. 'We wanted it to be very open and transparent, with no hidden corners.'
Students and staff at the new College will also have access to brand new multi-million pound indoor sport and leisure facilities at the nearby Waterlane Leisure Centre and a new dedicated floodlit multi use games area on the main campus for team activities.
There are about 45 staff currently based at the college with more posts soon to be advertised.
Ms Botham said: 'It has taken years to get to where we are now and it has seen a lot of people work incredibly hard - but this is something special, it is really exciting for everyone.
'It is a stunning building, which we are all really proud of.
'The students who enrolled were so enthusiastic - it is not just a new term, we have started from scratch, so it is a really exciting period.
'We have got a brilliant set of staff who are all specialists in their field and highly-qualified - we just can not wait to get started.'
Other educational revolutions in Lowestoft this week have seen the opening of East Point Academy, which had been Kirkley High School, and the opening of the brand new Pakefield High School.