Start of a £25m era as school upgraded

Head Ian Gage and pupils in the main building.  Photo: Roger Nadal.
Head Ian Gage and pupils in the main building. Photo: Roger Nadal.

HIGH Storrs students began the new term on Tuesday at a very different school.

For nearly a year the grade II-listed art deco building has been covered by contractors’ scaffolding and tarpaulins.

This week the distinctive frontage was reopened and pupils flooded back.

The move marks a new beginning for the secondary school – and an end to lessons in mobile classrooms.

The entrance foyer and reception are being dubbed ‘exemplar areas’, restored by architects and builders to the condition they were in when the school opened 80 years ago.

The main assembly hall and adjoining wings are back in use and the stage returned to its former glory.

Work has included an ICT element, with interactive whiteboards installed in every classroom, and a public art project by artist Charlie Whinney, in collaboration with staff and students, sees a metallic sculpture snaking through the new school.

The £25m redevelopment, part of the Building Schools for the Future programme, has been a mammoth undertaking.

In addition to restoring the historic building, an extension has been added – and all with minimal disruption to more than 1,500 students.

The first phase opened last September, providing a base for creative arts subjects as well as a new dining room, learning resource centre and student reception.

“This is an important occasion for High Storrs School,” said headteacher Ian Gage this week.

“We have been very pleased with our new building but this is the time when we receive our refurbished school hall and classrooms back into school use.

“These facilities are fantastic and combine the very best of our old school with the new school buildings.

“The refurbished quads offer student areas for quiet study and reflection and our refurbished stage facilities will ensure that our excellent reputation for performance arts will continue to inspire young people in this area and across the city.”

The only part of the scheme still under way is the sports hall extension, due for completion this summer.

A grand opening is planned at the start of the school year, on September 17.