More than 1,400 extra school places have been added in Nottingham in 2016 as the City Council prepares to formally handover the new Bluecoat Academy building.

The milestone has been reached thanks to 420 additional places created at the Bluecoat Academy Primary in Bilborough. Based at the old Shepherd School site in Harvey Road, the new building has 15 classrooms, break-out areas, small group rooms, a hall, a playground and specialist unit for children with autistic spectrum disorder, plus a 26-place nursery.

Funding for the £5.7 million building has come from the City Council’s ambitious programme of expansions, which has seen an investment of £41.9 million to create more than 4,000 additional primary school places since 2009, once all year groups are full.

Other school expansions in 2016 are:

  • 63 places at Whitegate Primary
  • 210 places at Mellers Primary
  • 30 places at Glade Hill Primary
  • 120 places at South Wilford Primary
  • 210 places at Fernwood Primary
  • 420 places at Nottingham Academy

Cllr Sam Webster, Portfolio Holder for Education, Employment and Skills at the City Council, said: “Investment in our schools is crucial and we are committed to providing a good school place for every child in Nottingham. We are taking action to ensure that there are enough primary school places to meet the current and future demand. In September, 92% of children were offered a place at their first or second choice primary school and this investment will improve this further.

“The Council’s expansion strategy will ensure that every child and young person has access to the very best facilities in order to help them to succeed and reach their full potential. We must ensure that all children have the opportunity to access high quality teaching and learning. Parents in Nottingham want good schools, with places available, close to home.”

Sian Hampton, Executive Principal at Bluecoat Academies Trust, said: “I am delighted with the opportunities that this new building provides for all the children attending Bluecoat Primary. I have greatly valued the support from the Local Authority in getting this building completed.

“This allows us to continue our work of transforming the lives of the children in our care in a brand new purpose built school building. This rich learning environment will facilitate outstanding learning delivered by our highly skilled and talented staff team.”

Lead contractor, Wates Construction, started work on-site in February 2016 and recently launched its ‘Adopt a School’ mentoring initiative at the Academy. The programme, which is set to continue until September 2018, will see the contractor stage a series of work-based learning activities for pupils and invite students on guided tours of working construction sites.

John Carlin, Business Unit Director, Wates Construction Midlands, said: “To have facilitated the council in providing an additional 420 pupil places for Nottingham has been a privilege. Our focus throughout has been to create a building that not only caters to the city’s growing population, but that also inspires the next generation of pupils as the academy embarks on this exciting new chapter.

“Creating a long-term benefit in the areas where we have a presence is a priority and the launch of our ‘Adopt a School’ programme is evidence of Wates’ dedication to leaving a lasting legacy. The initiative is enabling us to introduce the students to the world of construction and share our knowledge of the industry.”

The project was procured through the East Midlands Property Alliance (empa) framework, which is managed by public sector built environment specialist Scape Group and aims to improve procurement and building works for public sector bodies. Work at the school has been designed by Lungfish Architects, which is also part of Scape.

Ian Towlson, regional frameworks manager for empa, said: “Bluecoat is a flagship project for empa and Lungfish. This is one of a number of school projects delivered across the region which is helping councils meet the growing demand for pupil places. It’s a substantial scheme which has created 15 new classrooms and I’m certain the pupils will enjoy their new school surroundings.”

Richard Daw, lead architect from Lungfish, added: “Lungfish has created a space that suits the individual needs of the school. For example, as a faith school the hall is larger than usual to accommodate community and faith activities, which are at the heart of the school’s ethos, and the reception and nursery settings have external canopies to ensure children can enjoy outside play in all weathers.

“Thanks to the collaborative efforts of all parties involved, this has been an enjoyable and positive project, which has resulted in an excellent new educational facility that we’ve all been proud to be a part of.”