Chantry Academy looks forward to further progress after grand opening of new building

Official opening of Chantry Academy. Head boy and girl, left to right, Ligita Lazdauskaite and Joshu

Official opening of Chantry Academy. Head boy and girl, left to right, Ligita Lazdauskaite and Joshua Clarke. - Credit: Gregg Brown

Chantry Academy in Ipswich celebrated the grand opening of its new school building on Friday, as the school marks a “fresh start” from a difficult year.

The £14.3million project saw the 53-year-old campus torn down over the summer holidays, before the brand new campus was built, and opened in time for the September start, as part of the government’s Priority School Building Programme.

But while pupils at the school have made the most of the two months there so far, the official grand opening was held on Friday, with school governors past and present, staff, Ipswich borough council leader David Ellesmere, Baroness Rosalind Scott of Needham Market and MP Ben Gummer, all celebrating the occasion.

Mr Gummer said: “It’s incredibly exciting, and the end of a long journey.

“I have been fighting for this day for five years, so it’s just wonderful to see this beautiful building which is going to be a centre for excellence in the middle of Chantry. It’s a great day for Ipswich.”

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The school has now become less spread out across the site, with the classrooms being centred in a three-storey building, and top end hall, drama and sports facilities.

Principal Craig D’Cunha said: “The new building represents the importance the community places on the futures of the children of Chantry, not only for those who attend the school now, but for the thousands who will pass through its doors in the future. It’s an outstanding building which has already inspired our students to exceed their own aspirations.”

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Ipswich Borough Council leader David Ellesmere, who was previously a governor at the school, added: “Surroundings do make a difference, and a brilliant new building shows that for kids in Chantry education is important for their future.”

The school, which was previously known as Suffolk New College, and Chantry High School before that, suffered a setback in January when a critical Ofsted report rated the school ‘inadequate’, prompting new sponsor the Active Learning Trust to take over in September from the Suffolk New Academy Trust.

However, improved GCSE results where the number of students five A* to C grades doubled from 23% to 46%, coupled with a new sponsor, new building prospect and a change of name to Chantry Academy, have represented important steps in the school’s turnaround.

An inspection in June deemed the school was making “reasonable progress towards the removal of special measures.”

Mr D’Cunha said: “The last year has been very difficult for everybody involved at the academy, but this year has been a really positive start.

“We are making reasonable progress and the GCSE results in the summer are the best we have had.

“Now there is a real sense of pride for the pupils and the teachers.”

Pupils at the school have already noted the impact the new build has had on the attitude and learning experience in the classroom, and signals an important step in the school’s development.

Deputy head girl Ligita Lazdauskaite, 16, said: “The new building has introduced pride in how the pupils look at things, and the teachers are looking at it in a more positive way.”

Deputy head boy Joshua Clarke, 15, added: “We will be here for six months but I am taking full advantage, so the year sevens coming in should absolutely do the same because it’s really making a positive impact overall.”

Mr D’Cunha is now keen to turn attitudes towards the school around, and inspire pupils to achieve their full potential.

“I think we have raised their aspirations. The conversation is not about what job do they want to go into, but what career they want and how they can achieve that.

“My feeling towards the school is unbridled joy – I couldn’t be happier with the direction of the school at the moment.”

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