First glimpse at Norwich academy school building

Sam EmanuelThis is the first glimpse of the multi-million pound plans to transform an up-and-coming Norwich school into a state-of-the-art learning environment.Sam Emanuel

This is the first glimpse of the multi-million pound plans to transform an up-and-coming Norwich school into a state-of-the-art learning environment.

Work to construct a new �21.4m crescent-shaped school building for City Academy Norwich, which was known as Earlham High School until it became an academy in September 2009, will begin in the summer, and the new facility is expected to be opened ready for the new school year in 2012.

It will be put up behind the existing school, which will be demolished once the new building comes into use. The land the school currently stands on will be opened up and used as a civic green space, linking the communities living along Earlham Road and Bluebell Road.

Although the project is being managed by Norfolk County Council, which sponsors the school together with Norwich School, City College Norwich and the UEA, all of the �21.4m redevelopment money has come from the government's Department for Children, Schools and Families.

The school's bosses hope that the new building will help to further boost the academic attainment of the pupils after significant progress was made this year in the predicted GCSE grades, which are now well ahead of government targets for the school.

Behaviour and attendance have been transformed, with the number of students sent out of class down by 60pc and attendance up to over 90pc, and as a result of these improvements, more parents and young people are choosing City Academy Norwich as their first choice school - this coming September will see double the number of students joining Year 7 than in the previous year.

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The school's principal, David Brunton, said: 'The days of teaching from the front of a classroom with everyone sitting in rows have been consigned to the past. Students learn best in an interactive environment with group work, peer support and creative personalised learning with the teacher guiding these activities.

'The learning spaces of the future that we will have in our new academy building will provide the flexibility that teachers need to teach lessons in different ways to make learning more exciting and personalised.

'City Academy Norwich is a school at the very heart of its community and this new building will become a real asset of which everyone locally can be proud. I am confident this new building will raise the aspirations and success of students.'

The new building, which will also feature �1.5m worth of the latest digital technology, will be built to the highest environmental standards and use a local district heating system and solar panels.

Existing community sports facilities will be increased and the existing swimming pool used by community groups and local primary schools will be retained on the site.

Students have been fully engaged in the planning and design of the new building and the academy is now inviting the local community to have its say on the plans, which are subject to approval from Norwich City Council.

A planning application will be submitted at the start of June and is likely to be considered in August, but in the meantime, a formal public consultation will take place, starting with a community open day on Saturday, May 1 between 10am and 1pm, when the plans for the new building will be on display.

Free refreshments will be provided and there will be an opportunity to discuss the plans with the academy's Senior Leadership Team and feedback comments. Local residents, who will also be consulted during the formal planning process later in the year, are welcome.