A major milestone is reached at Bluecoat Academy Primary School this week with a ‘bolt tightening’ ceremony to mark the placement of the final piece in the building’s steel frame – just four months after construction work began.
Work started in February 2016 at the old Shepherd School site on Harvey Road and has so far seen builders install 70.2 tonnes of steel, the equivalent of 18 elephants, including 679 beams, connected by 3,214 bolts.
Laid end-to-end, the steel frame would stretch 2,294 metres, 23 times the distance between City Ground and Trent Bridge cricket ground.
When complete, the new Bluecoat Academy Primary will provide 420 places in Bilborough and will include 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.
The ‘golden bolt ceremony’, which will be hosted by main contractor, Wates Construction and attended by representatives from Nottingham City Council, will take place on the site of the new school on Harvey Road, opposite Bluecoat’s Beechdale Academy.
Current Deputy Head at the Outstanding rated Warren Primary Academy, Sue-Ellen Shaw will take over as Head of School at the new Bluecoat Primary Academy from September. She said: ““I am thrilled and proud to be the new Headteacher at Bluecoat Primary Academy; I am excited about seeing this new school grow and develop.
“I am looking forward to helping Bluecoat move into a new and exciting phase of its history and this building will deliver outstanding facilities for young people and will have all of the resources to enable them to realise their potential and access new and exciting opportunities.”
Sian Hampton, Executive Principal at Bluecoat Academies Trust, said: “I am delighted with the opportunities that this new building will provide for all the children attending Bluecoat Primary. I have greatly valued the support from the Local Authority in getting this building project underway.
“Once it is open we can 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.”
Designed by Nottingham-based Lungfish Architects – part of the public sector owned built environment specialist Scape Group, the project forms part of Nottingham City Council’s wider programme to expand its education estate and increase capacity for new school places.
The Council has invested £33.2 million into its primary school expansion programme which began in 2009. This investment will create more than 4,000 additional primary school places once all year groups are full, while 292 new Reception year places have been made available for the new academic year in September.
Councillor Sam Webster, Portfolio Holder for Education, Employment and Skills at Nottingham 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.
“More than 92% of children in Nottingham have been offered a place at their first or second-choice primary school, up 2% on last year. Nearly 87% will be going to their first-choice school in September, while 6% got their second choice. This year we were able to offer every Nottingham child a school place and expansion projects like Bluecoat Primary mean we can ensure every child has a place in the years to come.
“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.”
Moving on to the next phase of works, Wates will now commence the ‘building envelope’ (section between the inside and outside), including block and brickwork and installation of windows, doors and roofing. Completion is expected by the end of this year and the school will open in January 2017.
Phil Harrison, Managing Director, Wates Construction Midlands and North, commented: “Over the past ten years, Wates has delivered approximately 25,000 school places across the Midlands and this wealth of experience has equipped us with an adaptability that enables us to go above and beyond in accommodating the individual needs of each school.
“Wates’ appointment to Bluecoat Academy is yet another indicator of our strength in the creation of exceptional educational facilities for the city and is testament to our on-going partnership with Nottingham City Council.”
In continuing its relationship with Nottingham City Council, Wates recently carried out a volunteering project at Silverdale Community Centre. This saw the team donate 5,000 man-hours to the project and formed part of the contractor’s national Community Week initiative.
Wates was appointed to the project at Bluecoat Academy via the East Midlands Property Alliance (empa) framework agreement, which is managed by Scape. The framework was established in 2008 by local authorities to improve the cost efficiency of property services for local communities.
Sharon Bacha, programme design manager at Lungfish, said: “Delivering high quality, modern spaces for teaching and learning is at the heart of what we do and we are very proud to be involved with this exciting project which will be the first Primary School in the Bluecoat Academy family.
“This is a significant milestone in the construction of this new school, which will provide much-needed pupil places for the city upon completion.”
Work has been ongoing to increase capacity at primary schools across the City, with most of the work already finished. Communities in areas like the Meadows, Basford, St Ann’s and Aspley are already benefitting from completed expansion work. For the academic year starting in September 2016, 292 extra school places have been created in Nottingham.
Further parts of the City will benefit from the school expansion programme. In 2016, new places for children will be created at schools in Sneinton, Wilford and Wollaton.