Firm wins free school contract

A MULTI-MILLION-pound building contract has been awarded by Suffolk County Council to develop a new free school.

Balfour Beatty has been appointed by the council to create the Stour Valley Community School in Clare.

A mixture of refurbishment and new build, the �4.8million scheme is expected to start on site in July 2011 with completion in summer 2012.

Construction work will be undertaken by Mansell, a Balfour Beatty company.

A central element of the design is the creation of a “heartspace” immediately inside the school entrance.

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A spokesman from the company described the area as “an inspirational double height space that will act as the central hub for the school and provide and educational and social creative space for both the school and local community”.

Other new facilities will include an activity studio, new science and technology labs and a music room.

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Headteacher Christine Inchley said: “The school Trustees and I are really pleased with the proposals and hope that the local community will share in our excitement.

“The scheme will deliver better facilities for our students and it also represents a real investment in the community as a whole.”

Balfour Beatty Construction Services UK’s chief executive officer, Mike Peasland, said: “We are delighted to be named as preferred bidder for the delivery of the new facilities for Stour Valley Community School. We are committed to delivering excellent design and value for the school and the local community.”

Stour Valley Community School will open to students in September. The free school is supported by the coalition Government and was a central education policy in the Conservative Party’s pre-election manifesto.

Clare Middle School, which is on the site at the moment, will close this July as part of the county’s change from a three-tier education system to a two-tier system.

Suffolk County Council says this will bring the county in line with the rest of the country.

Michael Gove, secretary of state for education, confirmed that the school would go ahead in January.

The announcement ensured that Suffolk would be the first county in the country to establish a free school.

South Suffolk MP, Tim Yeo, who has supported the four-year campaign to replace Clare Middle School and backed the free school policy, said Suffolk was now a pioneering county in the future direction of education in England.

Following Mr Gove’s announcement he said: “This is a matter of great pride to Suffolk and will give parents a better choice of where to send their children to school.”

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