Work is moving at a pace on the new three-storey facility at St Michael’s Catholic Academy, Billingham.
The new structure, constructed in front of the existing academy building, will replace the out-dated school on the Beamish Road site for the past 50 years.
Scheduled to be completed by April 2016, the exterior of the new academy is already completed with brickwork and external windows in place.
Internal fit-outs are now under way with builders Kier working on internal partition walls, plastering, joinery, ceilings, decoration and mechanical and service installations.
“Although our old school has served our community extremely well for more than half a century our latest development will take us into a brand new era of education,” said vice principal Damien Kelly.
“Our incredible new state-of-the-art facilities, supported by our high quality teaching, will provide students with the perfect surroundings in which they can each strive to reach their full potential.”
Internally the new academy, will feature a high specification sports facility with main sports hall, badminton, basketball and netball courts, five-a-side football pitch, dance studio and gym facility, all of which the academy plans to open up to the local community.
A new chapel, funded by the Carmel Education Trust, will seat 60 people and will be suspended within the main body of the academy. A stained glass window, which will feature prominently within the suspended structure, is to be designed by students in a competition to be run by the academy later in the year.
Eight new science labs with hi-tech benching will sit alongside a new soundproof music room with adjoining practice rooms and two art studios, one featuring a kiln for ceramic and pottery classes.
Two computer science labs will see the subject brought back onto the school curriculum and for the first time St Michael’s will have a dedicated drama studio linked to the main school hall enabling the academy to stage major school productions.
All design and technology areas within the new building have been specifically designed for each subject. For instance the food technology kitchens will be fitted with height adjustable worktops to suit pupils with specific access requirements.
An open plan learning resource centre will house 30 computer stations and the school library and student breakout areas for study and socialising will be available throughout the school.
“Our students have been consulted throughout the entire building process and have had a major input into the look and design of the new school,” added Mr Kelly.
Environmentally the new academy will have solar panels generating electricity and hot water with all windows maximising heat retention to make the building as efficient to run as possible.
A new intelligent lighting system will power down when not in use and a large reservoir, built underneath the school, will collect rainwater to prevent the risk of flooding before slowly releasing the water back into a local stream.
A diversion channel has already been built on site to re-direct any newts on the school grounds to a nearby wildlife reserve area and a bat survey will take place before work begins on demolishing the old site.
“Our builders Kier have been absolutely fantastic,” added Mr Kelly. “An important area of St Michael’s is our memorial garden which is dedicated to staff and students who have passed away.”