It is the beginning of a new era for two Whitehaven schools as pupils officially started life in a £30million campus today.
A handover event took place to mark the move of St Benedict’s Roman Catholic High School and Mayfield School on to a new shared site, Campus Whitehaven, which includes new community sports provision and other facilities which will benefit the whole community.
Steve Bridgman, acting headteacher at St Benedict’s, said: “Being all in one building has made a massive difference to everyone, the teachers and pupils are all very positive about the new building.
“Almost all the school can be used by the wider community. There are already adult education classes and we have bookings for the all weather pitch.”
Gillian Temple, headteacher from Mayfield School added: “We’re absolutely thrilled, it is an amazing learning space, better than we ever hoped. Plans started in 2014 and it’s a dream to reality for me. It’s totally accessible and the potential for two schools working together is wonderful.”
Some year 12 pupils gave their views on the new facilities. Charlotte Nann said: “The building is much better, we don’t have to go out in the rain and it takes less time to get to lessons.”
Abbey McKendrey said: “We have loads of working computers now,” and Emylia Sloan added: “There are much better smart boards.”
Gareth Neal, regional commercial director of Wates Construction, who built the campus, said: “It’s been a two and a half year journey and we feel privileged and honoured to deliver this project.”
Investment in the campus has come from a range of partners including the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority, Sellafield Sites Ltd, Copeland Community Fund, and Cumbria County Council.
Keith Hitchen, Chair of Copeland Community Fund Board, said: “It is exciting to see the fund’s investment of £3million become a reality in terms of exceptional community sports and leisure facilities available for the whole of the Copeland area.
“We would encourage members of the local community and community sports organisations to take full advantage of what should be an amazing community asset.
County councillor David Southward said: “This is a wonderful moment to celebrate and I’m delighted that we can finally see the realisation of what was once just an idea. There’s been a huge amount of work by all the partners to get to this end point and it’s genuinely exciting to think about what this campus will do for local young people and the area as a whole.”
The project has generated over £25million of economic investment for Cumbrian suppliers, sub-contractors and local partners.
Paul Vallance, from the NDA, added: “Campus Whitehaven will provide an inspirational learning environment for young people and help them access the employment opportunities of the future.
“It will be an important asset for the whole community, offering access to top-class sports facilities and lifelong learning with potential to improve the lives of thousands of local people.”