January 31 2015 Latest news:
Steve Downes, Education Correspondent
Thursday, January 6, 2011
A new academy building on the edge of Norwich will be completed a year earlier than initially planned - thanks to a surprise £15m government cash injection.
There were doubts about the size of any Whitehall handout for the new complex at Ormiston Victory Academy, at Middleton Crescent, Costessey, after the coalition government froze nationwide funding for school building schemes.
But today it was announced that the academy, which opened in the former Costessey High School last September, would get just short of the £17m it originally asked for.
With fears brushed aside that the sum would be much less or even nothing, academy principal Rachel de Souza and lead sponsor Ormiston Trust can now press ahead with a major revamp of the site - much of which is run down and in need of an upgrade.
Mrs de Souza said: “I am absolutely delighted at the money allocated by the government for our rebuild. It is a huge vote of confidence in our new academy and the Costessey community.”
She said some of the existing buildings would be retained, while there would a “fairly extensive rebuild”.
She said: “Our new cutting-edge facilities will concentrate on our core subjects, particularly science, with world-class lecture facilities which can cater for our expanding sixth-form and medical students from Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital, our strategic partner.
“We will also concentrate on excellent sports facilities which will be accessible to the Costessey community. We are placing a huge emphasis on sport.”
The academy had been hoping to get millions of pounds as part of an £80m Norfolk project to rebuild or refurbish schools through the nationwide Building Schools for the Future (BSF) scheme.
However, when the government changed and the cash squeeze tightened, the new coalition scrapped BSF, leaving many projects to wait for further information.
A spokesman for the academy said the change had worked in its favour, with the building work set to be completed some time in 2014 - compared to 2015 under BSF.
The £15m handout was part of more than £50m that the government said would be coming to Norfolk’s four newest academies - including £8m for Ormiston Venture Academy at Gorleston, £18.2m for Thetford Academy and £10.5m for King’s Lynn Academy.
Alison Thomas, Norfolk County Council’s cabinet member for children’s services, said: “This is fabulous news for the hundreds of young people that attend these four academies, as well as the communities of King’s Lynn, Costessey, Gorleston, Thetford.”
The first Norfolk academy opened in the former Heartsease High on Marryat Road in September 2008. It moved into a new building In September this year.
The second, City Academy Norwich, opened in the former Earlham High on Earlham Road in September 2009. Plans for a new, £21.7m complex on the same site were signed off last month, with building work commencing this week.
● For more information, including reaction from parents of children at Ormiston Victory Academy, don’t miss today’s paper.