Work has begun to transform one of the city’s most historic secondary school buildings following the opening of a brand-new state-of-the-art building.
Scaffolding has gone up around The Bemrose School’s 1930s listed building in Uttoxeter New Road in order to bring it in line with 21st century teaching.
It follows the opening of the school’s new Oak Tree building, a purpose-built three-storey facility which will ultimately house an additional 700 students at the school.
Oak Tree was carefully designed to complement the original school and thousands of bricks were made in a smaller than standard size to match those used on the old construction.
The new building has a flat roof and its height was restricted so the school’s historic green cupolas and clock tower are still visible across the city.
Now work has started on bringing the rest of the school up to the same high standard, with replacement windows, a new central heating system, new electrics and plumbing and a complete refurbishment throughout.
The school’s corridors will have better acoustics to minimise secondary noise and its flooring will lifted, refurbished and reinstalled.
Executive head teacher Neil Wilkinson said: “We are extremely proud of the old building which has housed many generations of Derby school children, but some design features are now out of step with 21st century teaching.
“While there have been various updates over the years none have been as comprehensive as this project, which will make the entire school fit for purpose and completely future-proofed.
“The building is almost 90 years old and covered by a preservation order, so all work has to be carried out extremely carefully and is rigorously inspected.
“We are extremely proud of our heritage and this renovation will return the school to the glory days of Bemrose.”
Oak Tree, which was designed in consultation with Bemrose teachers themselves, is a 21-classroom block which includes four bespoke science labs and six state-of-the-art IT suites.
Each of the three floors is colour coded, corridors are extra wide and there is one staircase for up and one for down to allow pupils to flow freely through the building without bottlenecks.
There are lockers on every floor, along with water fountains and break out areas with soft seating. Classrooms have sound boards on the ceilings to make them acoustically secure and C02 monitoring to ensure pupils stay focussed – a red light indicates when there is not enough oxygen in the room.
Each room has a 72ins interactive screen worth £2,700, the science labs have centrally-controlled gas taps and water and IT suites contain 30 brand new computers.
Floor to ceiling windows at the ends of each corridor allow light to flood into the building and there is underfloor heating throughout.
The need for a new building is to provide additional places due to the number of new housing developments being built in the city centre, in particular the new 700-home development at Manor Kingsway.
The number of places at the school will increase from 900 pupils to a total of 1,600. The higher admission numbers will move through the school gradually year by year.
Mr Wilkinson added: “Oak Tree is a really professional learning environment and feels less like a school and more like a modern work-place, preparing students for university and future employment.
“It is a real investment in the children and shows them how much we value their education. The environment lends itself to learning and there is a clear appreciation of what they have in terms of facilities.
“Although Oak Tree is state-of-the-art it takes its lead from the original building and this reflects the ethos of the school. We are proud of our historic roots, but we need to keep moving forward and when the project is finished Bemrose will be a school the city can be really proud of.”
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