As the sun rose on Monday morning, so too did the excitement of pupils and staff of Bury St Edmunds’ Sybil Andrews Academy.
Having bid farewell at the end of last week to the former St James’ Middle School site, where they began their academic year, this week they moved to their brand new purpose-built site on Moreton Hall.
And with its contemporary, bespoke design and spacious, flexible interior, the school in Rougham Tower Avenue, a new road off Lady Miriam Way, is certainly not what they have been used to.
“The pupils I’ve spoken to are in awe – they’re proud of Sybil Andrews anyway and being at the school but I think this is just a different world to the one they have been used to and they’re excited about it, and they should be because they are lucky children,” said school principal Andy Prestoe, having just about recovered from the move.
“It shouldn’t be underestimated, I’ve never moved a school before so I don’t have any comparable, but it’s a significant logistical challenge and one that can only happen with a lot of people pulling together, which they have done,” he said, grateful for the ‘military-style operation’ which made it possible without disrupting ‘normal school life’.
The move took place in earnest over the weekend but bits of furniture and other resources were being transferred throughout last week as lessons continued in a reduced number of classrooms at St James, Sybil Andrews, with its 202 pupils, having previously chosen to ‘spread out’.
“It’s been a little bit hectic and the weekend was busy but we’re great and when the pupils arrived on the first day it was all worth it,” said Mr Prestoe, who has taken a rather large memento with him from St James.
“We brought the baby grand with us - it was in St James and it’s certainly seen better days but it’s part of our history,” he said, hopeful of getting it restored so that pupils can play it at lunchtimes.
“Not only is it a nod to St James’ Middle School but also it’s part of where this school started and, in 10 or 15 years’ time, that part of our journey will potentially be unknown to the majority of staff and pupils and the idea is that piano will keep us grounded in our history,” he added.
As well as taking part in a mannequin challenge and being given time to explore their new school, on Monday the students enjoyed a Mexican lunch and a surprise ‘moving in’ cake.
Meanwhile, Mr Prestoe said the school’s windows with their special coloured film looked ‘amazing’ in the day’s sunshine and its steps, which are designed to double up as auditorium-style seating, had proved a hit with pupils who had ‘gravitated towards them naturally’.
Designed by Concertus Design & Property Consultants and built by Barnes Construction, the school is divided into three key buildings, The Heart, Teaching Block 1 and the Sports Building, which is due to be completed in January.
Mark Bailey, Barnes’ divisional director, said the speed of the project was the biggest challenge but they were able to reduce it from a four year design and construct project to two years by working in partnership, building it as the design progressed.
Howard Lay, chief executive of Samuel Ward Academy Trust, of which Sybil Andrews is a part, said: “We are delighted that Sybil Andrews Academy has opened. It is the physical realisation of an aspiration we had for a new kind of secondary school in Bury.
“Focused on strong values, challenge and support, it aspires to provide outstanding learning in an excellent environment.
“The staff at the school have been excellent, Suffolk County Council have been highly supportive and the community deeply engaged. I would like to thank them all.”
How the school measures up:
7.7km of reinforced concrete piles used in the foundations
576 tonnes of hot rolled steel and 776 bolts to secure frame to concrete foundations
6,215sq m of permeable paving
2.5km of underground drainage pipework
7,354sq m of floor finishes
3.1km of timber skirting
271 internal timber doors
28km of cables
592cu m of woodchip storage space for biomass boiler fuel
529 solar panels generating 119mw/h of energy per year, saving 63 tonnes of CO2 per year
10,751cu m of excavated material retained and reused on site in planted areas and in bunds rather than sent to landfill