North Tyneside Elected Mayor Norma Redfearn CBE joined students Jodie Eyre and Stephen Wilkinson, chair of governors Helen Thompson, headteacher Steve Wilson, project director for the Department for Education James Stuart-Mills and project managers for BAM Construction Kane Swaddle and Jason Kelly for the official ground cutting ceremony to celebrate the occasion.
School leaders have worked with planning teams in their development of the prominent site which has culminated in a sustainable and aspirational vision and a significant focal point for the local community.
Many of the existing buildings, a number of which were constructed in the 1960s, will make way for a new facility that will meet the demands of twenty-first century learning.
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Two blocks, built post-2000, will be retained and incorporated into the new development.
The new school building will include a wide range of departments zoned around a central landscaped area, including large hall, sports hall, specialist spaces, general teaching rooms and a large football pitch replacing the current pitch.
Chair of Governors Helen Thompson said: “On behalf of current and past Governors, I am delighted that we are able to share such positive news about the rebuild of Whitley Bay High School.
"This is the first of many milestones on the way to providing a school building and facilities we can all be proud of, and which will sustain and nurture our students, staff and the community, now and in the future.”
Headteacher Steve Wilson said, “This is an exciting time for the school and the local community.
"The new build will provide state of the art facilities for our students.
"We have worked hard with the architects and construction company to ensure the new school will allow us to maintain the happy, community atmosphere that exists at Whitley Bay High School while allowing our students to thrive academically, socially and in terms of all the extra opportunities available”.
Mrs Redfearn said: “The council is proud to support the creation of these wonderful new facilities for Whitley Bay High School. It will be great to see the project take shape and we wish the staff and students many years of success and happiness in their new state-of-the-art surroundings.”
Kehri Ellis, Chief Executive of North Tyneside Learning Trust, said: “North Tyneside Learning Trust has been the foundation trust to Whitley Bay High School for over a decade and I am absolutely thrilled that a modern new school building will offer a high quality learning environment to match the excellent education offered at the school.
"It’s an incredibly exciting time for the trust and the school, the new school building will offer a fantastic working environment for students and staff, with state of the art facilities, fit for 21st century teaching and learning.”
The project is managed and funded by the Department for Education as part of the first wave of a national School Rebuilding Programme.
Construction begins in May 2022 with the new school build operational from autumn 2023.
Over the next 12 months the old school will be demolished and external landscaping completed. The school will remain fully operational throughout construction.