CONSTRUCTION work is due to begin on the new £32.5 million secondary school at Arborfield Garrison next month.
Following the appointment of Bohunt Education Trust (BET) as the school provider, a review has been carried out to determine how the school’s internal layout can be adapted to meet Bohunt’s science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) curriculum.
As a result, a number of improvements, including two additional laboratories, new STEM workshops and enhanced drama and art facilities, are now set to be made.
Delays have hit the development in recent months, with levels of contaminated soil being found on the site, something which is expected of brownfield land. This resulted in a delay in the handover of the school site to building contractors Dawnus, leading to concerns that the school would not be delivered on time.
In order to remedy this, Wokingham Borough Council (WBC) and BET have taken the decision to alter the construction phasing to ensure the school is built on time, allowing contractors the freedom to work more efficiently and ensure the building work is completely, as planned, by May or June 2017.
The school is due to open to 180 Year 7 students in September 2016, with well-established legacy buildings on the garrison site set to be used while construction of the permanent buildings is finished on adjacent land.
The buildings will be brought in-line with BET’s needs and provide a full suite of facilities within nine teaching spaces, including four classrooms, an art room, a laboratory, STEM workshop, a theatre with stage, ICT and dining facilities and an outdoor recreational space.
Cllr Charlotte Haitham-Taylor, WBC’s executive member for children’s services, said: “It has been a busy summer working with Bohunt and our contractors to see how best we can incorporate these design improvements, which will provide a high quality education offer at the new school, into the construction timetable.
“We’re confident these design changes will ensure our students will have even greater opportunities at the new school.
“By using the legacy buildings, which was an excellent training facility for the military, we can provide a high-quality education environment for the students, and minimise disruption to their learning in the first year of the new school.”
Lloyd Watkins, chair of the Parent Reference Group (PRG), said: “Hearing of delays during site clearance obviously caused considerable concern within the community, particularly in families with Year 6 children, but I am pleased to say that at a face-to-face meeting with Bohunt and the borough council our concerns have been addressed.”
The school will eventually have the capacity to educate 1,200 pupils from age 11 to 18, with space for a future growth of 300 pupils if required.
Applications for secondary school places for students going into year 7 can now be made and parents have until October 31 to submit their preferences.
Prospective students and their parents will have the chance to meet Bohunt staff and students and hear their plans for the school at two parents’ evenings, taking place on the evenings of October 6 and 7 at Henry Street Garden Centre in Arborfield.
There are also three open mornings planned at Bohunt School in Liphook (October 12 to 14); further details on these visits are available by attending one of the open evenings, or by emailing: firstname.lastname@example.org