Today marks the end of a chapter for pupils of Sybil Andrews Academy who have bid farewell to their temporary school.
The academy’s first 202 students began their school year at the former St James’ Middle School site, but they will be waking up on Monday ready to continue their educational journey in their new purpose-built school on Moreton Hall.
For Barnes Construction, the Suffolk-based firm behind the build, the speed of the project presented some unique challenges but, still, it completed it in record time.
Mark Bailey, the company’s divisional director, said: “The peculiarities about this was that it was a large value project that was required to be built extremely quickly, so we were working very much in partnership with the designers, and its consultants, designing it and building it hand-to-mouth all the way through, which is how we managed to reduce a four year design and construct project to two years.”
Andy Prestoe, school principal, said: “From the school’s perspective the end of term would have been three weeks from now so worst case scenario was it [the move] was going to be in January – our first communication with parents said if we could get in before we would, and we’re delighted we have.
“Because of the complexity of the build and the fact it wasn’t just the building we needed but the services as well, that’s been a huge challenge, but everyone involved has come together amazingly well and I’m delighted, as are the pupils.
“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.”
Divided into three key buildings, The Heart, Teaching Block 1 and the Sports Building, which is due to be completed in January, the school is designed around the ethos of a central heart space, minimising the use of corridors by maximizing social and group spaces that can be used flexibly.
Mr Prestoe said: “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.”