21st Jan 2015
NET?s New buildings project director, John Taylor and Steve Williamson, principal, Thorp Academy (Back) with primary school children from the Thorp Academy?s cluster schools (L to R) Ellie Moffatt, Rowlands Gill Primary, Elizabeth Dinning, Ryton Infant and Junior School Federation, Joe Wilkinson, Ryton Infant and Junior School Federation, Cameron Richardson, Rowlands Gill Primary, Ryan Snaith, Chopwell Primary, Megan Askew, Chopwell Primary
Thorp Academy in Ryton, a Northern Education Trust (NET) Academy, hosted an official turf cutting ceremony on Wednesday, 14 January, to mark the start of construction work on a new building.
Forming part of the coalition government?s Priority School Building Programme (PSBP), it is the first in a batch of seven priority build schools in the North East.
The regional division of national building contractor, Sir Robert McAlpine, is undertaking the construction of the new academy. The first phase of work, which gets underway this month, is the STEM building (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) which will contain the academy dining area and associated catering facilities.
During the summer of 2015 the sports halls, music, art and special needs departments will be refurbished as they are relatively new and being retained.
The final elements of the building will be completed in readiness for the new academic year in September 2016. The new state-of-the-art facilities will make a huge contribution to the academy?s continuing progress, as Steve Williamson, Thorp Academy?s principal, explains:
?This is such an exciting time for us all and we are thrilled to see the plans we have watched developing being transformed into buildings that will support the rising achievement of our students.
?The new building will be a fantastic support to our work. We have already significantly improved our results through developing teaching and learning but we sometimes feel the buildings are a drag factor ? having to put money into repairs and high energy costs leaves less to spend on education. We are all excited by the boost this will give the Academy?s plans.?
?The whole process has been carefully managed by the Education Funding Agency and with the support of Northern Education Trust, the project is going ahead with little impact upon the school community.
?Pupils, staff and governors are eagerly anticipating the brand new facilities.?
Thorp Academy, which has just under 1300 students and employs around 160 staff, became part of the NET portfolio of academies in September last year.
NET?s vice chair, Chris Roberts, welcomes the start of construction work, adding:
?This is a great opportunity to replace a series of tired buildings dating back to the 1930s with a purpose built academy for 11 to 18-year-old students, suitable for 21st century education. It will give students and staff at Thorp Academy the best facilities available in the area including modern ICT networks built as part of the new academy. In addition the new buildings will permit the existing community use to be substantially extended once they are complete."