Headteacher Nigel Youngman doesn’t have to look too far when he wants to check on progress of his school’s new build.
The Head’s office at The Whitehaven Academy has a bird’s eye view overlooking development as construction of the multi-million-pound building gets under way.
Clearance work started in June – as the first students returned to classes following lockdown. And now in the new academic year it is full steam ahead, both in the current school, and on groundworks to make way for its neighbouring three-storey, 6,720 sq metre replacement.
This year the academy saw a trebling of Year 7 students making it their first choice for secondary education. Those who start with the academy next year should be among the first to enjoy the new build which is set to open its doors in spring 2022.
Mr Youngman said that seeing physical work taking place added to the sense of anticipation for staff and students.
He said: “There is palpable excitement in the community that something so deserved is now happening and people can see that.
“I think most people who come to my office are more interested in seeing what’s happening with the diggers and builders rather than anything else. But it is wonderful for everybody to get a sense of what’s coming for the students of Whitehaven.”
The building will include 21 classrooms, seven science labs, two art studios with views across to the Lakeland fells and three design and technology rooms. It will have an adjoining sports hall, make the best use of natural light and feature bright internal walkways.
Demolition of a former maths block and the old Overend building has already taken place. Foundations are expected to go in next month, with erection of the main steel frame structure in November.
Mr Youngman said disruption to the running of the school had been minimal. The existing facility will be demolished once students and staff have transferred over.
Cumbria Education Trust took over the running of the academy in late 2018 and wants it to become the school of choice for the area and at the heart of the community.
While the Department for Education is the client for the build, academy leaders provided a School Design Brief specifying aspects they would like included. Students will also be asked for their views through the school council.
The academy is arranging Covid-secure visits during September and October for families interested in taking a Year 7 place next year. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for details.