A NEW era of education got underway in Yate this week as pupils started the new academic year in recently-completed £16million academy buildings.

After more than two years since plans were first drawn up, and months of major construction work, the rebuilt Yate International Academy opened its doors to students for the first time on Tuesday.

Despite a few technical difficulties, a long summer of moving desks, white boards, books, computers and musical instruments into the new building paid off as excited pupils turned up to take their first lessons in the modern, H-shaped academy.

Principal Roger Gilbert, who spearheaded the project as soon as the government awarded the funding for the rebuild when the academy joined The Ridings’ Federation in partnership with Winterbourne International Academy, said he was thrilled to finally see the new buildings open for business.

He said: "We have been waiting for the moment when children come in through the front doors for the last two-and-a-half years.

"And I was not disappointed with the overwhelming buzz of excitement that the new Year 7s brought with them."

Starting secondary school on Tuesday was Paige Moore, 11, who previously attended Woodlands Primary School, which became linked with the academy last September.

She said: "I came to summer school and got to see a bit of the new buildings then. It is really big and it feels quite exciting."

Emily Fussell, also 11, started at the academy finishing Abbotswood Primary School last term.

"The buildings look a lot better than they were," she said. "And I am looking forward to having lessons in here."

Sixth former Mason Poole, 17, said the academy had come a long way since South Gloucestershire Council earkmarked what was then King Edmund Community School for closure in 2005.

"That was the year before I started here," he said. "But the academy is fantastic now and I think the new buildings will attract more people.

"I am looking forward to using the sports hall and we have a dedicated common room for the sixth form which we didn’t have before. It feels like we have more privacy."

Holly Walden, 17, added: "I like having our own lockers so I don’t have to carry my bag everywhere.

"I think we owe a lot of thanks to Mr Gilbert for fighting hard to keep the school open and now we have all this."