St Alban's Academy opens its £17.6 million state of the art school building

Friday 18 January 2013

St Alban's Academy opens its £17.6 million state of the art school building:

Lord Adonis and The Rt Reverend David Urquhart, Bishop of Birmingham, joined St Alban’s Principal, David Gould, and the teachers, staff and students of St Alban’s and Lucy Heller, Chief Executive of ARK Schools, at the opening ceremony of St Alban’s Academy’s new £17.6 million building.

“Well here we are - in our wonderful new building!” said David Gould in his opening speech.

“This was the big prize that we hoped and planned for when we began discussions about becoming an academy back in 2006.  A brand new facility here in Highgate, in one of the most deprived parts of any city.  Here for this community for the future. 

“People living in Highgate would never have believed that this could happen. And if it were to happen they would think that it wasn’t meant for their children.

“But it is!”

The new 7,946 sq ft, state of the art, purpose built academy took three years to build and includes the best facilities in the city for design technology and engineering. 

The new ST Alban’s Academy has exceptional specialist accommodation for science, art, music, ICT and physical education.  As an inclusive Church of England school the academy also hosts a new prayer room equipped for multi-faith worship with washing facilities suitable for Muslim prayer. 

Sports facilities include a four badminton court size sports hall and fitness suite and this month work will begin on the construction of an all-weather floodlit sports pitch.  

The building which has a solid fuel heating system using recycled wood chips complies with all BREEAM assessment ratings for environmental performance.

Initiated within the Birmingham BSF programme, and complicated by its eventual cancellation, the challenging budget led to an economic, yet inspiring design. 

“The building is an expression of the school’s beliefs, vision and aims,” explained David Gould.  

“Inside, the academy is broken down into two small schools, St Patrick’s and St Peter’s, each with their own head teachers.  This ensures that all students are well known by teaching staff and reflects our commitment to human scale education.

“The spacious, dramatic, central atrium, technically an outdoor space, is unheated but under cover, and has allowed us to maximise the internal space, with large classrooms in prime locations that have views out across the city and into the atrium.

“It’s a building with layers of meaning that will reveal itself to students over time. Around the building on the walls are words taken from the Bible and the Qu’ran, timeless words that encapsulate what we believe in at St Alban’s Academy.”

The opening ceremony included speeches from the Chair of Governors, Professor Peter Marsh, Lucy Heller, Lord Andrew Adonis and the Rt Revd David Urquhart Bishop of Birmingham blessed the building.

The new building allows St Albans to expand its current roll from 440 students aged 11-16 to 800 students aged 11-18.  Applications are currently being taken for the academy’s new sixth form which opens in September this year (see website )

The principal David Gould said, “This building is in trust to us for future generations. Staff and students of the academy have a responsibility to the community and to the nation, not only to preserve and improve the quality of this facility for future generations, but also to make it work to change the lives of the those who learn in it, to change this community and to impact on standards, not just locally but city-wide and nationally.

Sponsored by ARK Schools, St Alban’s Academy is an independently managed, state funded school with traditional values and high expectations for conduct, homework and academic standards.

Exemplary behaviour, a positive attitude to work and strict adherence to the dress code is expected. In return the academy offers high quality teaching, excellent pastoral care and a wide range of enrichment opportunities.

Outstanding Achievements

Academically, St Albans achieves great results and in October 2011 it was judged by OFSTED to be outstanding. The quality of teaching is outstanding and students make outstanding progress.

“St Alban’s Academy gives richness and meaning to many students’ lives and provides an outstanding standard of education.  Excellent relationships, supported by students who cooperate and follow the academy’s code of conduct without fuss, result in high levels of engagement in lessons.   A vibrant, purposeful work ethic means that students greatly enjoy their learning and the challenge posed for them by their teachers.  Consequently, students make outstanding gains in their learning.”

(OFSTED Report – November 2011)

In December 2011 the academy received another outstanding judgement in the National Society Statutory Inspection of Anglican Schools.  The report is a tribute to the quality of relationships at St Alban’s where young people from a variety of faith backgrounds work together in harmony to make the most of their God given talents.

“The distinctiveness and effectiveness of St Alban’s Academy as a Church of England school are outstanding.  St Alban’s Academy successfully encourages students to live by faith, developing mutual respect and thus forming a bridge between cultures. St Alban’s Academy is exceptional in that students are enabled to explore and develop issues of faith whilst making remarkable progress both academically and personally.”

(SIAS Report – December 2011)