Thomas Gainsborough students are poised to return to new multi-million pound school
- Credit: Archant
Students beginning the new school year in west Suffolk next Monday will return to a brand new multi-million pound state-of-the-art building.
Work on the new four-storey Thomas Gainsborough School in Great Cornard, which has taken just over a year to build at a cost of £17million, has been completed on time and on budget with “no hiccups” according to headteacher Wayne Lloyd.
The next step will be to demolish the original grey concrete school buildings, built in 1974, and install a new nine-a-side football pitch on the site instead.
The only former buildings that will remain come next February are the library and the sports hall. The old Cornard Middle School building next to the new complex will also remain and will be used as a centre for some of the sixth form lessons.
Mr Lloyd said he was “absolutely thrilled” with the new energy efficient red brick building, which developer Kier Construction described as resembling a “country house in its own parkland”.
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Mr Lloyd said: “I can’t criticise the building or the process we have gone through in any way - everything has gone without a hitch, which is pretty impressive for a multi-million pound project of this scale.
“I know the students will be equally delighted with the new building and it will make them feel valued and invested in.
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“I think the whole community of Great Cornard should feel the same because It’s a wonderful facility that will provide quality education for local children for decades to come.”
The 9,124 sq m complex has been designed by award-winning architects, Feilden Clegg Bradley, to have a ‘college’ feel.
It also has several key features that the old site was lacking. These include informal open plan sixth form areas for independent study, a reading room and a top floor art room that opens out onto a roof terrace with panoramic views of the surrounding countryside.
Mr Lloyd said this would give the pupils a chance to work outside and paint the views that inspired Thomas Gainsborough.
He added: “We spent a lot of time and money making the old buildings fit for purpose but the new building provides a modern, airy, spacious environment that will make the students feel really valued.
“It tells them that the people who manage their education really care about them and want to give them the best possible environment in which to learn.”
In January, Thomas Gainsborough School opted out of local authority control and become an academy as part of the successful Samuel Ward Multi Academy Trust.
At the time, Mr Lloyd said this was to enable staff to make decisions at local level and set their own agenda to “ensure teaching and learning is developed in the right way.”
Thomas Gainsborough is one of only two schools in Suffolk to gain funding for its new building as part of the Government’s £2 billion Priority School Building Programme.
The other one is Chantry Academy in Ipswich which will also open the doors of its new building to students next Monday.