The Duke of Northumberland visited the site of the new high school in Alnwick today to see progress on the multimillion-pound development.
Under construction at Greensfield, to the south of the town, the school is due to open its doors to students this September. The Duke of Northumberland was accompanied by Northumberland County Council leader, Grant Davey, and they saw classrooms, the new dining area and a feature staircase, among other areas of the new building.
The two-storey structure will accommodate more than 1,000 pupils and in addition to classroom and administration space, the new school will include a four-court sports hall, outdoor sports pitches and social and play spaces. The school will also have enhanced thermal performance which will mean it is kept cool in summer and warm in winter.
Northumberland Estates has provided the land for the new school on a very long lease. The Duke of Northumberland said: "I have seen the new school buildings taking shape and it is very good to have this opportunity to have a closer look at some of the facilities that the students will enjoy when the school opens this September. An excellent education in inspiring surroundings is so important for future generations of Northumberland residents and I am very pleased that Northumberland Estates has been able to support the construction of this new school at Alnwick."
Northumberland County Council will contribute between £6million and £11million to the development and construction of the new school, to accommodate Years 7 and 8 when the school becomes a secondary school from September 2017.
Northumberland County Council leader, Grant Davey, said: "These are going to be fantastic new facilities and much-needed after the schools has been operating from a split-site and run-down building for many years. The project will not only provide a new state-of-the-art school, but its construction and development have also supported the local economy – with 48 per cent of spend on the project having been within a 30-mile radius of the site.
"While this project is part of the national Priority School Building Programme, the county council has bridged a funding gap and has also invested £2million in constructing the access road and road island near the new school. We are also providing project-management support to assist with coordination of the move from the old to the new site."
Chairman of governors, Lalage Bosanquet, said: "Everyone at school is very excited about the progress on the new building. While the move will be a huge task, we are all looking forward to the fresh new start this September. A tremendous amount of work has taken place behind the scenes over the last two years and thanks to a great partnership effort, the school is on track and on time. We are soon to enter an exciting new era for our school, students and staff."
Main contractors in the construction of the school are Galliford Try.North East and Yorkshire managing director, Cliff Wheatley, said: "Construction on site at The Duchess’s Community High School is going very well and today we are able to show His Grace The Duke of Northumberland, Coun Davey and other guests our progress to date. Galliford Try has a strong track record in education projects and has been pleased to bring all that experience to bear in ensuring that the children of Alnwick receive a school building to be proud of."
After years of campaigning, in May 2012, the Education Secretary announced that the Duchess’s was one of 261 schools across the country which would be rebuilt through the Priority School Building Programme. The visit today was also attended by local county councillors and James Stuart-Mills, a project director from the Education Funding Agency.