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Thursday, 24 July 2014

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Furness Academy’s £22.5m vision finally to become reality

WORK on the new £22.5m Furness Academy building is set to start in March.

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STATE-OF-THE-ART: An artist’s impression of the how the Furness Academy new build by Halliday Clark Architects will look

The state-of-the-art new Barrow secondary school is due to be completed by September 2013.

It will be constructed on part of the academy’s South Site playing field, which is off Park Drive, and directly opposite Barrow Park.

The 1,200-pupil building was originally due to be ready for September 2012, but the school has been hit by a series of delays.

The first halt was the return of a “one site or two site?” consultation, which resulted in plans for the academy to be based on just South Site (formerly Parkview School) when the new build opens, rather than both South Site and North Site (formerly Thorncliffe School) as it has been since the academy’s opening in September 2009.

The change of government left an anxious wait, with some 700 building projects losing out, but Barrow’s academy kept hold of its funding. The third delay was an application to protect the South Site playing field as a Town and Village Green, which was rejected at the end of 2011.

Now Kier Construction is preparing to move onto the site.

Principal, Douglas Blackledge, said: “It is tremendously exciting, and we are greatly relieved that we finally seem able to get on with the job of bringing to the young people of the town, and the wider community, the fabulous opportunities that the new resources will present to us, to bring learning into the 21st Century.

“The young people of Barrow are extremely fortunate, especially within the global economic climate within which we are all having to make compromises and savings in terms of investment.”

A state-of-the-art 3G artificial turf sports pitch is set to be ready this September.

From summer 2013 the academy is set to vacate North Site and hand it back to Cumbria County Council.

Students and staff from both sites were then due to continue to use the present South Site building alongside the new build.

But Mr Blackledge, said because of the year delay, the pupil roll is projected to be just over 1,200 in September 2013, so there will be capacity for everyone to move into the new building, and the old building can be handed back.

He said: “We now anticipate because of the 12-month delay we will take all students straight into the new build.

“Although we will be slightly fuller than the eventual figure of 1,200, there will be ample space.

“In the end, it is better for the initial move, but we would never have chosen for it that way, although it is one positive, the negative is we have lost 12 months of the impact of the new facilities.”

Have your say

Seems like sour grapes to me. I have spoken with a lot of staff at Furness Academy and every single one has told me that standards have improved and are much better than the standards of the three predecessor schools. Staff are a lot happier and students are better behaved and more motivated. You have to pay for quality and that's why the Leadership team earn above average salaries. People forget that both Alfs and Thorncliffe were so bad that they were in Special Measures. Thankfully we now have the Academy.

Posted by Jack Dawson on 16 January 2012 at 20:26

The plans for furness academy are to be frank appalling, the school is too small the children will be stuffed in like sardines and the facilities second class. How do i know this well from all that has been said by the school and the council in the run up to the birth of the Academy. For a start i am sure that initially they were expecting in the region of £40m to accomplish fairly ambitious plans. Including as one of your comentators has said a running track (a real one) and I believe a swiming pool was mentioned.All carrots dangled in front of the masses. At the outset the people of Barrow have been asked to put their faith in what only be described as dogey used car salesmen. Asking us to sign up to something we couldn't see idea (no plans drawn up) we didin't what we were getting or how much the council/school would have to spend or how much it would all cost. You wouldn't ask any one to buy a car or a washing machine without seeing it first perhaps a little demo? Or maybe they did it is a fact that the responses to the second consultation for a 2 site school were only 5% of the total number of documents sent out (courtesy of Cumbria CC web site). That was not a delay by the public more an appeasment because the decision had already been made the consultation wasn't asking our views it was telling us what was happening. Hey presto after afew months a 2 site scheme is not feasable! Well knock me down with a cold kipper, really? That's because it never was going to be a 2 site scheme, divide and conquer thats what it was.A very unsatisfactory state of affairs all those involved should be thoroughly ashamed of themselves we havwe been misled,and done up lke the proverbial kipper. Personnally I cannot wait for my child to leave the place I only hope that she can come away with some half decent std of education, which going by a conversation with one former senior member of staff is doubtful. I do hope the children of Barrow get the school they deserve, one with with first rate facillities, great teachers, and can compete on theresults front with the very best. Maybe they will when the council sell off the remaing land, the old school and North site for housing. No they'll waste that as well! God help us all I hope they get what they deserve.

Posted by Andy McNamee on 16 January 2012 at 17:04

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