More than 600 staff and students have moved into the new build of The Whitehaven Academy.

During the February half term staff moved all their teaching equipment and IT across to the new facilities. Then students had their first look inside during transition sessions last week – and now the whole school is settling into its new £17m home.

They had watched on as the state-of-the-art building rose just yards away from the old classrooms over the last 20 months.

Headteacher Nigel Youngman said it was a day to which the whole school community had long looked forward.

He said: “There has been such a buzz of anticipation from everyone at the academy as we have got closer and closer to the move. It’s fantastic to now offer this community the kind of facilities they deserve.”

CET Chief Executive Lorrayne Hughes said it had long been a shared ambition to see 21st century teaching facilities brought to the Cleator Moor Road site.

She said: “The staff and students have worked so hard over recent years, this is a fantastic development that opens up many more opportunities for our young people.

“This week is the culmination of so many people’s efforts, from the local community to the Department for Education, to Cumbria Education Trust, Wates Construction and all the staff and students.”

The building includes 21 classrooms, seven science labs, two art studios and three design and technology rooms. There’s also a sports hall with dance and drama studios.
The three-storey building will allow year and subject group clusters, has bright internal walkways and a glass-fronted main entrance. There is also a community entrance for groups and individuals using the on-site facilities outside of school hours.

Students have also just taken delivery of the new school uniform they helped design, complete with the academy’s revamped branding with its distinctive burnt orange lighthouse.

Mr Youngman added: “The importance of a school uniform is not to be underestimated as it provides students with a strong sense of identity and belonging. A smart uniform helps our students feel pride in their academy.”

Parents of Year 9 students will be among the first groups to see inside this week as the academy welcomes them for a GCSE Options Evening.

Mr Youngman said a combination of strengthened staffing and the new build facilities meant the academy was able to offer several new courses such as Creative iMedia and GCSE Dance as well as fully exploring STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) opportunities.

The new build isn’t the last development planned for the site. The academy is to seek permission for two full-size artificial pitches to cater for a range of sports including rugby, football, hockey and netball. In addition, there would be three tennis courts, a sprint track and standing area for spectators.

The old academy building is set for demolition by the autumn.