THE finishing touches are being made to the new and improved Winterboune International Academy.
A £19.3million rebuild of the dilapidated old classrooms was completed at the end of the summer term and the keys to the state-of-the-art new teaching and student areas have been handed back to staff by construction firm BAM Construct UK.
The new building will open in September and students have enjoyed an extra week off school while staff moved thousands of pieces of teaching equipment, computers, desks and books into the new rooms.
Stephen Bates, manager of estates and facilities at the academy, said in just five days and amid scorching July temperatures, staff lived up to the challenge of moving everything from the old building to the new one.
“The physical decanting of the building went extremely well,” he said.
“It was successfully executed as a result of detailed project management and total co-operation and commitment from all academy staff.”
IT, facilities and operational staff will now spend the next month installing equipment, implementing protocol, and ironing out any issues prior to students returning in September.
Dave Thomson, IT project consultant, said: “Faced with the challenge of moving more than 2,000 devices plus peripherals was daunting to say the least.
“With some careful planning, some student helpers and an IT team looking forward to escaping the well-used legacy buildings the task seemed achievable.
“There were some moments when we looked at the masses of equipment already moved and then thought about the huge amount of equipment left in the building where we thought we were facing a never-ending battle. However, plenty of hard work and late nights ensured the last piece of equipment was moved in time.”
Construction work began at the academy, one of the largest school building projects in the country, in August 2012 with the aim of creating a modern, inspirational learning space for students and staff.
The new building retains the current arts hall and technology laboratories, pulling them into the main building, and sees the creation of a new music department, technology and multi-material facility, a dedicated sixth form area and numerous social areas.
An open, naturally lit core rises through the centre of the building, linking the academy’s teaching to its central ethos of internationalism. Two large halls will seat 300 students each, and conference facilities will allow international link ups with other institutions.
There is also a new cycle park, car park, multi-use games area and outdoor PE courts.
The original buildings at the academy, which was known as The Ridings’ High School until it became part of a Pathfinder academy scheme with Yate in 2009, are more than 50 years old. The school was prioritised under the government’s school rebuilding process because of its academy status and follows the £16million rebuild of the Yate academy.
External works will continue over the next few months including the demolition of the old buildings which starts this week and although students will make use of the new building from September, the campus will not be completed until Christmas.
New and existing parents of students will have an opportunity to see the new building during set days in September and prospective Year 7 students can enjoy a tour at the academy’s open evening on October 2.