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New school building for secondary

Hundreds of additional places are being created at a Waltham Forest secondary as part of a £25million project to build a brand new school building.

Willowfield Humanities College will have capacity for 900 secondary school students once its new facility in Blackhorse Road, Walthamstow, is completed in autumn 2015 – 300 more places than it can offer at its current site in nearby Clifton Avenue.

This week, building work reached a milestone when the structure of the new facility was completed. It is being built by Bouygues UK, who have a track record in delivering high quality, environmentally sustainable education facilities across the capital and who are working on another school on behalf of the Council, in Leytonstone.

To mark the occasion, a ‘topping out’ ceremony was held at the site during which Cllr Mark Rusling, Waltham Forest Council’s Cabinet Member for Children and Young People, joined Willowfield’s Headteacher John Hemingway and Nicolas Ramillon, Operations Director from Bouygues UK, in looking ahead to the building’s scheduled opening in Autumn, 2015.

Cllr Rusling said: “Next year, staff and pupils at Willowfield will be moving into a fantastic new state-of-the-art school complete with a full size sports hall, multi-use games area, dance and drama studios, a performance amphitheatre and a wildlife garden.

“These first-rate facilities will help ensure pupils receive the highest standard of education, provide the school’s hard-working staff with the perfect environment in which to teach – and create hundreds of additional and much-needed secondary school places.

“All of the work being carried out here reflects the Council’s commitment to helping give Waltham Forest’s young people the best possible start in life.”

Part of the Council’s secondary school expansion programme, Willowfield’s new building will enable it to grow from a four form entry to a six form entry school – equivalent to 300 extra places in total. Staff and pupils will move to the new site when it opens at the start of the autumn 2015 term.

Its most unique feature will be an entrance bridge at first-floor level, which will bring staff, pupils and visitors directly into the heart of the school – a three-storey atrium. Willowfield’s new assembly hall will double as a performance space with a full audio-visual set up connected to a control balcony.

The school’s relocation will also give staff and pupils access to nearby playing fields, creating further opportunities for pupils to get active, and stay fit and healthy.

Mr Hemingway said: “Students and staff at Willowfield are very much looking  forward to moving into the finished building next year.  Our new facilities will open up exciting opportunities for delivering a first class educational experience for future generations of learners.”

Willowfield’s new school building is located directly next to Blackhorse Road Station, on a former industrial site. The Council hopes the development will act as a catalyst for wider regeneration in the Blackhorse Road area.

Willowfield Humanities College is not the only school to receive a boost from Council funding. Leytonstone School is currently benefitting from major remodelling work, thanks to an investment of more than £10million.

The Council first announced funding for both projects in 2012, after it challenged the Government’s decision to scrap the Building Schools for the Future (BSF) programme.

Since 2012 the Council has been working to deliver the following plans:

  • Investing £4million to improve a number of school kitchens, providing modern cooking facilities to cater for the increasing number of students in need of healthy and nutritious meals;

  • Developing and implementing primary school expansion projects, which will provide an additional 28 forms of entry by 2017;

  • Delivering new premises or major improvements to Willowfield Humanities College and Leytonstone School following a detailed review of the condition of all secondary school buildings.

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