Archbishop opens Norwich’s first academy

One of Britain's leading churchmen urged students to 'imagine it, achieve it, dream it and become it' as he officially opened Norwich's first academy school.

The Archbishop of York, the Most Rev Dr John Sentamu, unveiled a plaque at a day of celebration at Open Academy on Marryat Road in Heartsease.

The �20m amphitheatre-style building opened in September in the place of the former Heartsease High.

Yesterday, the Archbishop gave what he called the 'cathedral of learning' his blessing - and had some words of wisdom for the students.

He said: 'This academy is not for the teachers or the parents, it is for you. I want to thank everybody who has contributed to building this cathedral of learning.

'The academy will draw out the best from each of you, but it takes the whole community to make it work.'

He added: 'Live in hope, have faith, live in the presence of God, be involved in the delivery of your own learning and be ready for everything.'

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The Archbishop presented Wedgewood anti-slavery medallions to academy principal Jon Platten, before calling six students to the front to illustrate the value of pulling together.

He was then treated to accomplished musical performances by pianist Dominika Szymanska, electric guitarist Joshua Fiske and vocalist Natasha Stapley.

The Archbishop also told the students about how he had been educated in a school made from mud in a village in Uganda in Africa.

He said: 'The primary school was a walk of a mile away. The secondary school was 12 miles. I am very grateful to a missionary, who gave me a Raleigh bicycle to help me to get there.'

After the ceremony, the VIPs were treated to a buffet lunch and a tour of the building.

George Nobbs, county councillor for Crome, which includes the academy, said: 'It's magnificent for local children. Everybody says that there's a tangible change in the way children behave in Heartsease since the opening of the academy.

'One member of staff told me that the students started off asking for extra work over lunchtime. That demand became so great that they had to open after school.

'Now they have to open at the weekend at the children's request. That speaks volumes for the vision.'

The academy is jointly sponsored by local businessman Graham Dacre and the Bishop of Norwich, the Rt Rev Graham James, who used his clerical contacts to secure the Archbishop as the special guest yesterday.

Do you have a school story? Steve Downes is on 01263 513920 or