Ipswich/Felixstowe: Multi-million pound joy for new academy schools

A new school for Holywells was firmly back on the cards today after the government promised nearly �15million to the promoters of a new academy.

That is nearly enough to pave the way for a new school to be built next to the Gainsborough Sports Centre.

Holywells High School is due to become the Ipswich Academy at Easter and the news that they will now be able to move into new premises in the near future is the best Christmas present possible for promoters the Learning Schools Trust.

At the same time the government has promised �18million to get a new academy established in Felixstowe which would effectively mean the merger of Orwell and Deben High Schools.

After five years of work and with the threat of the funding axe hanging over many schools projects, it is an amazing triumph for Felixstowe to get the go-ahead for the school and the cash to make the dream a reality.

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Initially it had been hoped to spend �32m on the new school and while the project will have to be trimmed down, those behind it are confident they can build a quality new project to improve education for the town’s youngsters now and for generations to come.

Suffolk Coastal MP Therese Coffey said: “It’s great news. I think we would have loved a bit more money, but our sponsor is confident they can create a new school on one site for Felixstowe.”

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In Ipswich, �15m has been secured for a new academy to be built next to Gainsborough Sports Centre – leaving promoters the Learning Schools Trust within grasping distance of finding a new home for the Ipswich Academy, which opens at Easter at the current Holywells High School site.

Ian Foster, Chairman of the Academies Enterprise Trust (AET), said: “This is excellent news for Felixstowe and in the current climate represents a massive investment in superb new teaching and learning facilities.

“I believe it is also a big vote of confidence, from the Government, in the Academies Enterprise Trust’s ability and commitment to deliver the vision of a new Academy on a single campus. We have exciting plans for the new Academy and look forward to sharing them with the local community in the next few weeks.”

He added: “Our immediate task, however, is to examine options on how the new construction would look to ensure the best possible outcome for local students.”

Councillor Graham Newman, Portfolio Holder for Children, Schools and Young People’s services said: “To have received this level of funding in the current financial climate is a significant achievement and demonstrates that a strong case has been made.

“We must now work with the sponsors, architects and the schools to evaluate exactly what we can deliver.

“We will start this work in earnest in the new year and will update parents and other interested parties at the earliest opportunity.”

Hopes were rising today that the dream of a new Holywells next to the Gainsborough Sports Centre could become a reality.

It has emerged that the government has offered �14.8million to the promoters of the new academy which is due to replace Holywells High School at Easter next year.

The Learning Schools Trust, which is promoting the new Ipswich Academy, had said it would cost �18m to build a new schoo.

When the government cancelled the Building Schools for the Future programme in the summer, the Holywells project – along with proposals to build a new academy in Felixstowe – was kept under review.

The trust had feared that the government might only hand over �5m to refurbish the existing Holywells High School building – but the news about the funding has given them a major boost.

Alone it is not enough to develop the Gainsborough site – but it is such a substantial sum it should make raising extra money needed much easier.

Ipswich MP Ben Gummer said: “I am really excited that the government has come forward with a major funding initiative for Holywells.

“However there is a lot of work to do and I am committed to doing everything I can to help them find any extra money that is needed to turn this dream into reality.”

Mr Gummer said the government’s commitment to the project should encourage private investors to come in with financial support for the project.

Suffolk County Council is working with the Learning Schools Trust to help develop the new academy.

Councillor with responsibility for children and young people Graham Newman described the news as a major boost for the area.

He said: “This is very good news. It is better than many people had expected and shows that the government is aware that there is a need for major investment in education in the south east of Ipswich.”

It was not possible to reach the Learning Schools Trust for a comment, but both Mr Gummer and Mr Newman expected their senior staff to be working hard to map out their next move over the Christmas and New Year period.

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