Work is progressing well on the new £32.5million secondary school at Arborfield Garrison despite the wet winter months.
More than 100 students have been offered places at the new school. When it opens this September, the school will make use in the short term of the excellent educational and sporting facilities at the former garrison.
Meanwhile a brand new school building is well underway, and is set to be completed in summer 2017 when it will be ready to open its doors taking capacity to 1,200 students. Phase 3 will provide an additional 300 places for future growth. Initial groundworks have been completed and a new drainage system and foundations have been laid. Work is progressing well on the building envelope – exterior walls, floors, windows and of course a roof.
Take a look
More than 25,000 people have also viewed the school’s progress via a time-lapse camera which is posted on a weekly basis on the borough council’s Facebook page.
The new school being built on behalf of Wokingham Borough Council by Dawnus, will be run by Bohunt Education Trust. It has a track record of delivering outstanding education, with the trust's founding school Liphook rated as one of the top-performing schools in the country. Bohunt is committed to bringing innovation that works in to the classroom and has already built a partnership with local science-based technology company 3M for the Bohunt School Wokingham.
Thoughts on the new school
Cllr Charlotte Haitham Taylor, executive member for children’s services, said: "I’m not sure which was best - being able to walk around inside the new school and see new classrooms taking shape, or the delight on the faces of its future students accompanying us. I’m thrilled by the real progress being made on the new school, and was honoured to meet some of students who will be starting there this September and how impressed they were.
"We toured the building, going up to different floors to see the work done so far. These facilities will provide an inspirational learning environment to encourage them and every student to reach their full potential.
"We’ve wanted for some time to provide a school in the south of the borough. Parents, students and local schools have joined us on this journey to make this ambition a reality, and I’m delighted we’re on track to open in September."
Newly appointed headteacher at Bohunt School Wokingham Ben Godber said: "Having been so closely associated with the preparation of the new school for its September opening, I’m delighted to have been given such a wonderful opportunity to lead it.
"Bohunt School Wokingham presents an opportunity to engender creativity from the outset and the great facilities on offer mean we can engage and inspire learners to fulfil their potential.
"We’re committed to bringing innovation that works to the classroom, ensuring students enjoy a rigorous education while also equipped with the skills to excel in the 21st Century. That’s why we are establishing pioneering partnerships with local firms so students gain first-hand experience of working with leading companies.
"We also want Bohunt School Wokingham to make an outstanding contribution to the local community, delivering first class standards of education in the area. Having already appointed a number of key staff to the core of the school team, we have all the elements necessary to enable us to realise the hopes and dreams of Wokingham Borough’s young people."
Martin Holt, project manager at Dawnus, said: "The construction is on schedule for next year’s opening. It is great to see so much enthusiasm for the project from the children and parents."
Lloyd Watkins, chair of the Parents Reference Group, said: "Dawnus really made a real impression when they showed build progress to some of the first students of the school and their parents.
"These people selected Bohunt School Wokingham from a set of drawings and placed their trust in Wokingham Borough Council, Dawnus and Bohunt Education Trust to deliver. The expressions on their faces as they walked through the large, open and impressive building really showed they think the promises are being fulfilled. I felt very proud of the people who have worked to bring this together - the look of awe and pleasure you could see when you looked at the children and parents made it all worthwhile, and so very real.
"The visit was practically on the anniversary of when planning permission for the school was granted and the progress getting a site, a builder, the school leadership and the students is stupendous. We must not forget just how big a deal this is; the first new build secondary school in Wokingham Borough for more than 60 years and seeing some of the first students on the roof of this already magnificent building really caps the year."
The new school will be built as part of the major development coming to Arborfield and will cater for pupils from the new homes as well as from existing communities in the south of the borough.