THE countdown is on ahead of the unveiling of the new £27m Shirebrook Academy, which is set to open its doors to pupils and staff after Easter.
Developers have taken nearly two years to build the new school which will see the 700-pupil Academy co-locating with Stubbin Wood special school, which is moving there from its own site on Burlington Avenue, Langwith.
The state-of-the-art building is just yards from the school’s current site on Common Lane and Shirebrook Academy headteacher Julie Bloor said the new facilities will leave pupils awestruck.
“I hadn’t been inside the building for a while, but now that it has all the furniture in and it looks like a school, I have to say that it has exceeded all our expectations,” she said.
“It’s wonderful and I think the pupils will be awestruck by how great it is. I’m delighted for them.
“They deserve to attend a school that you can tell straight away by its design and its facilities is going to improve their learning.”
The move is one of only a handful of examples in the country where a mainstream school is co-locating with a special school and pupils from both sides will share facilities and, if they choose, eat alongside one another, while the teaching staff will share the same staff room.
Otherwise, both schools have separate entrances, classrooms and outdoor areas and anyone who wants to pass from one school into another will have to use a swipe card.
Shirebrook Academy’s pupils will move into the new building when they arrive back after the Easter holidays, although they will be taking it in turns, with Year 10 and 11 students starting there on 16th and other year groups joining them gradually throughout the week.
Pupils will find the building divided into two halves separated by an atrium, complete with hotel lobby style seating in break-out zones and a mixture of café-style and traditional refectory dining facilities.
There is WiFi throughout the building, a well-equipped ICT suite, light and roomy classrooms and a dance studio complete with mirrors, a sprung wooden floor and LED lighting, as well as retractable seating, which can be pulled out to turn the room into a cinema – complete with 3D projection facilities – or a theatre space.
“It is a tremendous statement which will help them to understand how important our society thinks education is in their lives,” added Miss Bloor.
“The building has a village-like feel to it which encapsulates the community spirit which is what we want at Shirebrook Academy.
“The students are really proud of their school and cannot wait to come here.”
Elsewhere, the building has a sports hall with four full-size badminton courts and a 3G surface multi-sport courts outside, all of which can be accessed by a separate entrance and reception to enable members of the public to use the facilities outside school hours.
Stubbin Wood School headteacher Lee Floyd has conducted a series of tours around his school’s side of the building to show parents its state-of-the-art facilities, including food technology rooms with sinks and cookers that can rise and fall to suit students in wheelchairs, a therapy suite and a hydrotherapy pool, where lights, misted water and a disco glitter-ball will be used to stimulate pupils’ senses.
Stubbin Wood’s pupils, all of whom have a wide range of severe and complex learning and physical disabilities, will move into their new home one week after their Academy counterparts.
Their current school, which was built in the 1960s and is badly dated, will be demolished, although the school’s nursery unit, which is based in another building, will remain.
The building was designed by Sheffield architects Bond Bryan and was built by Derbyshire-based contractors Bowmer and Kirkland.