It will be back to the future for the 1,100 pupils returning to Winsford’s Academy next week – a brand new £20m state of the art learning environment.
Every student will use mobile learning devices, Samsung Galaxy tablets, and enjoy a rich mix of computer technologies in the iconic building in Grange Lane.
Inside, the striking new building has been designed to the concept of a community with the central corridor acting as a ‘street’ with glass-fronted classrooms on either side, open spaces, balconies and a ‘cafe culture’ canteen.
Contractors Kier have been putting the finishing touches to the new building during the summer break and have now handed the building over to project partners Cheshire West and Chester Council, the Academy and sponsors E-ACT.
The Academy – which can accommodate 1,700 students – will also benefit the wider Winsford Community and includes a 350-seat theatre within a performing arts centre, a learning resource centre, a sixth form centre, art studios and technology workshops.
Outstanding sports facilities include a new five court sports hall with full size basketball court, badminton courts, cricket nets, five-a-side football court.
The Academy was established in 2010 on the campus of the former Verdin High School whose buildings will now be demolished so external work on car parks and games areas can be completed by March next year.
Academy Principal Andy Taylor-Edwards said: “Everyone has worked really hard to make this dream come true. A new generation of youngsters has been welcomed into a caring and inspirational environment with the most modern facilities to prepare our students to take advantage of every opportunity offered in the future.
“The teaching staff have been preparing for this moment for three years and are really enjoying the opportunity to use the most modern equipment in bright new classrooms, labs, studios and sporting facilities designed to give the school a feeling of community.
“The Academy has facilities which will be of interest to the Winsford community, for example to sports teams and individuals, drama and musical groups, adult educators.
“The partnership work between E-ACT, Cheshire West and Chester Council and Kier has been outstanding, delivering not just an excellent building but a truly outstanding legacy in Winsford.”
Councillor Mark Stocks, Executive Member for Education and Children, said: “This is a wonderful investment by Cheshire West and Chester and the government in the current and future generations of Winsford students, creating an exciting and rewarding learning environment.
“Education is the way to prosperity and this first class building with first class facilities and technologies will improve job prospects for students and encourage employers to invest in Winsford.”
Councillor Lynda Jones, Executive Member for Commissioning, said: “The Academy will provide excellent facilities to encourage cultural activities like drama and music as well as developing sporting and community groups. It is a building which the whole town can be proud of.”
E-ACT is a charity established to create centres of education excellence and now sponsors 31 state funded academies and Free Schools.